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tWIeflftmorrlanD (BOttion 

THE WRITINGS OF 
MRS HUMPHRY WARD 

WITH INTRODUCTIONS BY THE AUTHOR 
VOLUME II 



Robert Elsmere and the Squire 



THE WRITINGS OF 

MRS HUMPHRY WARD 

ROBERT ELSMERE 

VOLUME II 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 
IvibcrmUr press CamfariUge 
1911 



COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



$7/0 




113S406 



CONTENTS 

BOOK III. THE SQUIRE (CONTINUED) 1 

BOOK IV. CRISIS 69 

BOOK V. ROSE 165 

BOOK VI. NEW OPENINGS 295 

BOOK VII. GAIN AND LOSS 457 

APPENDIX 561 



NOTES ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS 
ROBERT ELSMERE AND THE SQUIRE . Frontispiece. 

From an original drawing by Albert Sterner. * The in- 
terview opened as awkwardly as it was possible, and 
with their former conversation on the same spot fresh 
in their minds both men spent a sufficiently difficult 
ten minutes. The squire was asking himself, indeed, 
impatiently, all the time, whether he could possibly be 
forced in the future to put up with such an experience 
again, and Robert found his host, if less sarcastic than 
before, certainly as impenetrable as ever.' (Page 5.) 

WENDOVER PARK 82 

The park of Peper Harrow was in the author's mind as 
the original of Wendover Park, although the house on 
the estate is not described. 

BOROUGH FARM 254 

The farm in Surrey near Milford where Mrs. Ward and 
her family spent seven summers. Here much of * Rob- 
ert Elsmere ' was written. 

MRS. WARD'S HOUSE IN RUSSELL SQUARE . . 454 

In this house 'Robert Elsmere' was finished. From 
a photograph lent by Mrs. Ward. The house has been 
torn down. 

All of the illustrations in this volume are photogravures, 
and except where otherwise stated are from photographs taken 
especially for this Edition, 



BOOK HI 

THE SQUIRE (continued) 



EGBERT ELSMEEE 



CHAPTER XXII 

As may be imagined, the Churton Advertiser did not 
find its way to Murewell. It was certainly no pressure 
of social disapproval that made the squire go down to 
Mile End in that winter's dawn. The county might 
talk, or the local press might harangue, till Doomsday, 
and Mr. Wendover would either know nothing or care 
less. 

Still his interview with Meyrick in the park after his 
return from a week in town, whither he had gone to 
see some old Berlin friends, had been a shock to him. 
A man may play the intelligent recluse, may refuse to 
fit his life to his neighbours' notions as much as you 
please, and still find death, especially death for which 
he has some responsibility, as disturbing a fact as the 
rest of us. 

He went home in much irritable discomfort. It 
seemed to him probably that fortune need not have 
been so eager to put him in the wrong. To relieve his 
mind he sent for Henslowe, and in an interview, the 
memory of which sent a shiver through the agent to 
the end of his days, he let it be seen that though it did 
not for the moment suit him to dismiss the man who 
had brought this upon him, that man's reign in any 
true sense was over. 

But afterwards the squire was still restless. What 
was astir in him was not so much pity or remorse as 

[ 3 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

certain instincts of race which still survived under the 
strange superstructure of manners he had built upon 
them. It may be the part of a gentleman and a scholar 
to let the agent whom you have interposed between 
yourself and a boorish peasantry have a free hand ; but, 
after all, the estate is yours, and to expose the rector 
of the parish to all sorts of avoidable risks in the pur- 
suit of his official duty by reason of the gratuitous 
filth of your property, is an act of doubtful breeding. 
The squire in his most rough-and-tumble days at Ber- 
lin had always felt himself the grandee as well as the 
student. He abhorred sentimentalism, but neither did 
he choose to cut an unseemly figure in his own eyes. 

After a night, therefore, less tranquil or less medi- 
tative than usual, he rose early and sallied forth at one 
of those unusual hours he generally chose for walking. 
The thing must be put right somehow, and at once, 
with as little waste of time and energy as possible, and 
Henslowe had shown himself not to be trusted ; so tell- 
ing a servant to follow him, the squire had made his 
way with difficulty to a place' he had not seen for years. 

Then had followed the unexpected and unwelcome 
apparition of the rector. The squire did not want to 
be impressed by the young man, did not want to make 
friends with him. No doubt his devotion had served 
his own purposes. Still Mr. Wendover was one of the 
subtlest living judges of character when he pleased, 
and his enforced progress. through these hovels with 
Elsmere had not exactly softened him, but had filled 
him with a curious contempt for his own hastiness of 
judgement. 

'History would be inexplicable after all without the 
[ 4 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

honest fanatic/ he said to himself on the way home. 
'I suppose I had forgotten it. There is nothing like a 
dread of being bored for blunting your psychological 
instinct/ 

In the course of the day he sent off a letter to the 
rector intimating in the very briefest, driest way that 
the cottages should be rebuilt on a different site as 
soon as possible, and enclosing a liberal contribution 
towards the expenses incurred in fighting the epidemic. 
When the letter was gone he drew his books towards 
him with a sound which was partly disgust, partly 
relief. This annoying business had wretchedly inter- 
rupted him, and his concessions left him mainly con- 
scious of a strong nervous distaste for the idea of any 
fresh interview with young Elsmere. He had got his 
money and his apology ; let him be content. 

However, next morning after breakfast Mr. Wend- 
over once more saw his study-door open to admit the 
tall figure of the rector. The note and cheque had 
reached Robert late the night before, and, true to his 
new-born determination to make the best of the squire, 
he had caught up his wideawake at the first oppor- 
tunity and walked off to the Hall to acknowledge the 
gift in person. The interview opened as awkwardly as 
it was possible, and with their former conversation 
on the same spot fresh in their minds both men spent 
a sufficiently difficult ten minutes. The squire was 
asking himself, indeed, impatiently, all the time, 
whether he could possibly be forced in the future to 
put up with such an experience again, and Robert 
found his host, if less sarcastic than before, certainly 
as impenetrable as ever. 

[ 5 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

At last, however, the Mile End matter was ex- 
hausted, and then Robert, as good luck would have 
it, turned his longing eyes on the squire's books, espe- 
cially on the latest volumes of a magnificent German 
'Weltgeschichte' lying near his elbow, which he had 
coveted for months without being able to conquer his 
conscience sufficiently to become the possessor of it. 
He took it up with an exclamation of delight, and a 
quiet critical remark that exactly hit the value and 
scope of the book. The squire's eyebrows went up, 
and the corners of his mouth slackened visibly. Half 
an hour later the two men, to the amazement of Mrs. 
Darcy, who was watching them from the drawing- 
room window, walked back to the park gates together, 
and what Robert's nobility and beauty of character 
would never have won him, though he had worn him- 
self to death in the service of the poor and the tor- 
mented under the squire's eyes, a chance coincidence 
of intellectual interest had won him almost in a mo- 
ment. 

The squire walked back to the house under a threat- 
ening sky, his mackintosh cloak wrapped about him, 
his arms folded, his mind full of an unwonted excite- 
ment. 

The sentiment of long-past days days in Berlin, 
in Paris, where conversations such as that he had just 
passed through were the daily relief and reward of 
labour was stirring in him. Occasionally he had 
endeavoured to import the materials for them from the 
Continent, from London. But as a matter of fact it 
was years since he had had any such talk as this with 
an Englishman on English ground, and he suddenly 

[ 6 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

realised that he had been unwholesomely solitary, and 
that for the scholar there is no nerve stimulus like that 
of an occasional interchange of ideas with some one 
acquainted with his Each. 

'Who would ever have thought of discovering in- 
stincts and aptitudes of such a kind in this long-legged 
optimist?' The squire shrugged his shoulders as he 
thought of the attempt involved in such a personality 
to combine both worlds, the world of action and the 
world of thought. Absurd ! Of course, ultimately one 
or other must go to the wall. 

Meanwhile, what a ludicrous waste of time and op- 
portunity that he and this man should have been at 
cross-purposes like this! 'Why the deuce could n't he 
have given some rational account of himself to begin 
with!' thought the squire irritably, forgetting, of 
course, who it was that had wholly denied him the 
opportunity. 'And then the sending back of those 
books : what a piece of idiocy ! ' 

Granted an historical taste in this young parson, it 
was a curious chance, Mr. Wendover reflected, that in 
his choice of a subject he should just have fallen on 
the period of the later empire of the passage from 
the old world to the new, where the squire was a mas- 
ter. The squire fell to thinking of the kind of know- 
ledge implied in his remarks, of the stage he seemed 
to have reached, and then to cogitating as to the books 
he must be now in want of. He went back to his li- 
brary, ran over the shelves, picking out volumes here 
and there with an unwonted glow and interest all the 
while. He sent for a case, and made a youth who 
sometimes acted as his secretary pack them. And still 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

as he went back to his own work new names would 
occur to him, and full of the scholar's avaricious sense 
of the shortness of time, he would shake his head and 
frown over the three months which young Elsmere 
had already passed, grappling with problems like 
Teutonic Arianism, the spread of Monasticism in Gaul, 
and Heaven knows what besides, half a mile from the 
man and the library which could have supplied him 
with the best help to be got in England, unbenefited 
by either ! Mile End was obliterated, and the annoy- 
ance of the morning forgotten. 

The next day was Sunday, a wet January Sunday, 
raw and sleety, the frost breaking up on all sides and 
flooding the roads with mire. 

Robert, rising in his place to begin morning service, 
and wondering to see the congregation so good on such 
a day, was suddenly startled, as his eye travelled 
mechanically over to the Hall pew, usually tenanted 
by Mrs. Darcy in solitary state, to see the charac- 
teristic figure of the squire. His amazement was so 
great that he almost stumbled in the exhortation, and 
his feeling was evidently shared by the congregation, 
which throughout the service showed a restlessness, 
an excited tendency to peer round corners and pillars, 
that was not favourable to devotion. 

'Has he come to spy out the land?' the rector 
thought to himself, and could not help a momentary 
tremor at the idea of preaching before so formidable 
an auditor. Then he pulled himself together by a great 
effort, and fixing his eyes on a shock-headed urchin 
halfway down the church, read the service to him. 
Catherine meanwhile in her seat on the northern side 

[ 8 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

of the nave, her soul lulled in Sunday peace, knew 
nothing of Mr. Wendover's appearance. 

Robert preached on the first sermon of Jesus, on the 
first appearance of the young Master in the synagogue 
at Nazareth : - 

' This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears!' 

The sermon dwelt on the Messianic aspect of Christ's 
mission, on the mystery and poetry of that long na- 
tional expectation, on the pathos of Jewish disillusion, 
on the sureness and beauty of Christian insight as faith 
gradually transferred trait after trait of the Messiah 
of prophecy to the Christ of Nazareth. At first there 
was a certain amount of hesitation, a slight wavering 
hither and thither a difficult choice of words and 
then the soul freed itself from man, and the preacher 
forgot all but his Master and his people. 

At the door as he came out stood Mr. Wendover, 
and Catherine, slightly flushed and much puzzled for 
conversation, beside him. The Hall carriage was 
drawn close up to the door, and Mrs. Darcy, evidently 
much excited, had her small head out of the window, 
and was showering a number of flighty inquiries and 
suggestions on her brother, to which he paid no more 
heed than to the patter of the rain. 

When Robert appeared the squire addressed him 
ceremoniously 

' With your leave, Mr. Elsmere, I will walk with you 
to the rectory/ Then, in another voice, 'Go home, 
Laetitia, and don't send anything or anybody.' 

He made a signal to the coachman, and the carriage 
started, Mrs. Darcy's protesting head remaining out of 
window as long as anything could be seen of the group 

[ 9 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

at the church door. The odd little creature had paid 
one or two hurried and recent visits to Catherine dur- 
ing the quarrel, visits so filled, however, with vague 
railing against her brother and with a queer incoherent 
melancholy, that Catherine felt them extremely un- 
comfortable, and took care not to invite them. Clearly 
Mrs. Darcy was mortally afraid of 'Roger/ and yet 
ashamed of being afraid. Catherine could see that all 
the poor thing's foolish whims and affectations were 
trampled on ; that she suffered, rebelled, found herself 
no more able to affect Mr. Wendover than if she had 
been a fly buzzing round him, and became all the more 
foolish and whimsical in consequence. 

The squire and the Elsmeres crossed the common to 
the rectory, followed at a discreet interval by groups 
of villagers curious to get a look at the squire. Robert 
was conscious of a good deal of embarrassment, but 
did his best to hide it. Catherine felt all through as 
if the skies had fallen. The squire alone was at his 
ease, or as much at his ease as he ever was. He com- 
mented on the congregation, even condescended to 
say something of the singing, and passed over the 
staring of the choristers with a magnanimity of silence 
which did him credit. 

They reached the rectory door, and it was evidently 
the squire's purpose to come in, so Robert invited him 
in. Catherine threw open her little drawing-room door, 
and then was seized with shyness as the squire passed 
in, and she saw over his shoulder her baby, lying kick- 
ing and crowing on the hearthrug, in anticipation of 
her arrival, the nurse watching it. The squire in his 
great cloak stopped, and looked down at the baby as 

[ 10 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

if it had been some curious kind of reptile. The nurse 
blushed, curtseyed, and caught up the gurgling crea- 
ture in a twinkling. 

Robert made a laughing remark on the tyranny and 
ubiquity of babies. The squire smiled grimly. He 
supposed it was necessary that the human race should 
be carried on. Catherine meanwhile slipped out and 
ordered another place to be laid at the dinner-table, 
devoutly hoping that it might not be used. 

It was used. The squire stayed till it was necessary 
to invite him, then accepted the invitation, and Cath- 
erine found herself dispensing boiled mutton to him, 
while Robert supplied him with some very modest 
claret, the sort of wine which a man who drinks none 
thinks it necessary to have in the house, and watched 
the nervousness of their little parlour-maid with a 
fellow-feeling which made it difficult for him during 
the early part of the meal to keep a perfectly straight 
countenance. After a while, however, both he and 
Catherine were ready to admit that the squire was 
making himself agreeable. He talked of Paris, of a 
conversation he had had with M. Renan, whose name 
luckily was quite unknown to Catherine, as to the state 
of things in the French Chamber. 

'A set of chemists and quill-drivers/ he said con- 
temptuously ; ' but as Renan remarked to me, there is 
one thing to be said for a government of that sort, 
" Us ne font pas la guerre." And so long as they don't 
run France into adventures, and a man can keep a roof 
over his head and a sou in his pocket, the men of letters 
at any rate can rub along. The really interesting thing 
in France just now is not French politics Heaven 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

save the mark ! but French scholarship. There 
never was so little original genius going in Paris, and 
there never was so much good work being done.' 

Robert thought the point of view eminently char- 
acteristic. 

'Catholicism, -I suppose/ he said, 'as a force to be 
reckoned with, is dwindling more and more?' 

'Absolutely dead/ said the squire emphatically, 'as 
an intellectual force. They have n't got a writer, 
scarcely a preacher. Not one decent book has been 
produced on that side for years/ 

'And the Protestants, too/ said Robert, 'have lost 
all their best men of late ' ; and he mentioned one or 
two well-known French Protestant names. 

' Oh, as to French Protestantism ' - - and the squire's 
shrug was superb ' Teutonic Protestantism is in the 
order of things, so to speak, but Latin Protestantism ! 
There is no more sterile hybrid in the world ! ' 

Then, becoming suddenly aware that he might have 
said something inconsistent with his company, the 
squire stopped abruptly. Robert, catching Catherine's 
quick compression of the lips, was grateful to him, and 
the conversation moved on in another direction. 

Yes, certainly, all things considered, Mr. Wendover 
made himself agreeable. He ate his boiled mutton and 
drank his ordinaire like a man, and when the meal was 
over, and he and Robert had withdrawn into the study, 
he gave an emphatic word of praise to the coffee which 
Catherine's housewifely care sent after them, and ac- 
cepting a cigar, he sank into the armchair by the fire 
and spread a bony hand to the blaze, as if he had been 
at home in that particular corner for months. Robert, 



THE SQUIRE 

sitting opposite to him, and watching his guest's eyes 
travel round the room, with its medicine-shelves, its 
rods and nets, and preparations of uncanny beasts, its 
parish litter, and its teeming bookcases, felt that the 
Mile End matter was turning out oddly indeed. 

'I have packed you a case of books, Mr. Elsmere,' 
said the squire, after a puff or two at his cigar. ' How 
have you got on without that collection of Councils?' 

He smiled a little awkwardly. It was one of the 
books Robert had sent back. Robert flushed. He did 
not want the squire to regard him as wholly depend- 
ent on Murewell. 

' I bought it/ he said, rather shortly. ' I have ruined 
myself in books lately, and the London Library too 
supplies me really wonderfully well/ 

'Are these your books?' The squire got up to look 
at them. ' Hum, not at all bad for a beginning. I have 
sent you so and so,' and he named one or two costly 
folios that Robert had long pined for in vain. 

The rector's eyes glistened. 

'That was very good of you,' he said simply. 'They 
will be most welcome.' 

'And now, how much time/ said the other, settling 
himself again to his cigar, his thin legs crossed over 
each other, and his great head sunk into his shoulders, 
'how much time do you give to this work?' 

' Generally the mornings not always. A man with 
twelve hundred souls to look after, you know, Mr. 
Wendover,' said Elsmere, with a bright half-defiant 
accent, 'can't make grubbing among the Franks his 
main business.' 

The squire said nothing, and smoked on. Robert 
[ 13 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

gathered that his companion thought his chances of 
doing anything worth mentioning very small. 

' Oh no/ he said, following out his own thought with 
a shake of his curly hair; 'of course I shall never do 
very much. But if I don't, it won't be for want of 
knowing what the scholar's ideal is/ And he lifted his 
hand with a smile towards the squire's book on ' Eng- 
lish Culture/ which stood in the bookcase just above 
him. The squire, following the gesture, smiled too. 
It was a faint, slight illumining, but it changed the 
face agreeably. 

Robert began to ask questions about the book, 
about the pictures contained in it of foreign life and 
foreign universities. The squire consented to be drawn 
out, and presently was talking at his very best. 

Racy stories of Mommsen or Von Ranke were fol- 
lowed by a description of an evening of mad carouse 
with Heine a talk at Nohant with George Sand - 
scenes in the Duchesse de Broglie's salon a con- 
temptuous sketch of Guizot a caustic sketch of 
Renan. Robert presently even laid aside his pipe, 
and stood in his favourite attitude, lounging against 
the mantelpiece, looking down, absorbed, on his vis- 
itor. All that intellectual passion which his struggle 
at Mile End had for the moment checked in him re- 
vived. Nay, after his weeks of exclusive contact with 
the most hideous forms of bodily ill, this interruption, 
these great names, this .talk of great movements 
and great causes, had a special savour and relish. All 
the horizons of the mind expanded, the currents of the 
blood ran quicker. 

Suddenly, however, he sprang up. 



THE SQUIRE 

'I beg your pardon, Mr. Wendover, it is too bad to 
interrupt you I have enjoyed it immensely but 
the fact is I have only two minutes to get to Sunday 
School in!' 

Mr. Wendover rose also, and resumed his ordinary 
manner. 

'It is I who should apologise/ he said with stiff 
politeness, ' for having encroached in this way on your 
busy day, Mr. Elsmere/ 

Robert helped him on with his coat, and then sud- 
denly the squire turned to him. 

'You were preaching this morning on one of the 
Isaiah quotations in St. Matthew. It would interest 
you, I imagine, to see a recent Jewish book on the sub- 
ject of the prophecies quoted in the Gospels which 
reached me yesterday. There is nothing particularly 
new in it, but it looked to me well done/ 

'Thank you/ said Robert, not, however, with any 
great heartiness, and the squire moved away. They 
parted at the gate, Robert running down the hill to 
the village as fast as his long legs could carry him. 

'Sunday School pshaw!' cried the squire, as he 
tramped homeward in the opposite direction. 

Next morning a huge packing-case arrived from the 
Hall, and Robert could not forbear a little gloating 
over the treasures in it before he tore himself away to 
pay his morning visit to Mile End. There everything 
was improving; the poor Sharland child indeed had 
slipped away on the night after the squire's visit, but 
the other bad cases in the diphtheria ward were mend- 
ing fast. John Allwood was gaining strength daily, and 
poor Mary Sharland was feebly struggling back to a 
[ 15 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

life which seemed hardly worth so much effort to keep. 
Robert felt, with a welcome sense of slackening strain, 
that the daily and hourly superintendence which he 
and Catherine had been giving to the place might law- 
fully be relaxed, that the nurses on the spot were now 
more than equal to their task, and after having made 
his round he raced home again in order to secure an 
hour with his books before luncheon. 

The following day a note arrived, while they were at 
luncheon, in the squire's angular precise handwriting. 
It contained a request that, unless otherwise engaged, 
the rector would walk with Mr. Wendover that after- 
noon. 

Robert flung it across to Catherine. 

'Let me see/ he said, deliberating, 'have I any 
engagement I must keep?' 

There was a sort of jealousy for his work within him 
contending with this new fascination of the squire's 
company. But, honestly, there was nothing in the way, 
and he went. 

That walk was the first of many. The squire had no 
sooner convinced himself that young Elsmere's society 
did in reality provide him with a stimulus and recrea- 
tion he had been too long without, than in his imperi- 
ous wilful way he began to possess himself of it as much 
as possible. He never alluded to the trivial matters 
which had first separated and then united them. He 
worked the better, he thought the more clearly, for 
these talks and walks with Elsmere, and therefore 
these talks and walks became an object with him. They 
supplied a long-stifled want, the scholar's want of 
disciples, of some form of investment for all that 
[ 16 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

heaped -up capital of thought he had been accumulat- 
ing during a lifetime. 

As for Robert, he soon felt himself so much under 
the spell of the squire's strange and powerful personal- 
ity that he was forced to make a fight for it, lest this 
new claim should encroach upon the old ones. He 
would walk when the squire liked, but three times cut 
of four these walks must be parish rounds, interrupted 
by descents into cottages and chats in farmhouse 
parlours. The squire submitted. The neighbourhood 
began to wonder over the strange spectacle of Mr. 
Wendover waiting grimly in the winter dusk outside 
one of his own farmhouses while Elsmere was inside, 
or patrolling a bit of lane till Elsmere should have in- 
quired after an invalid or beaten up a recruit for his 
confirmation class, dogged the while by stealthy child- 
ren, with fingers in their mouths, who ran away in 
terror directly he turned. 

Rumours of this new friendship spread. One day, 
on the bit of road between the Hall and the rectory, 
Lady Helen behind her ponies whirled past the two 
men, and her arch look at Elsmere said as plainly as 
words, ' Oh, you young wonder ! what hook has served 
you with this leviathan? 7 

On another occasion, close to Churton, a man in a 
cassock and cloak came towards them. The squire put 
up his eye-glass. . 

' Humph ! ' he remarked ; ' do you know this merry- 
andrew, Elsmere ?' 

It was Newcome. As they passed, Robert with 
slightly heightened colour gave him an affectionate 
nod and smile. Newcome's quick eye ran over the 
[ 17 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

companions, he responded stiffly, and his step grew 
more rapid. A week or two later Robert noticed with 
a little prick of remorse that he had seen nothing of 
Newcome for an age. If Newcome would not come 
to him, he must go to Mottringham. He planned an 
expedition, but something happened to prevent it. 

And Catherine? Naturally this new and most unex- 
pected relation of Robert's to the man who had begun 
by insulting him was of considerable importance to the 
wife. In the first place it broke up to some extent the 
exquisite tete-d-tete of their home life; it encroached 
often upon time that had always been hers; it filled 
Robert's mind more and more with matters in which 
she had no concern. All these things many wives 
might have resented. Catherine Elsmere resented 
none of them. It is probable, of course, that she had 
her natural moments of regret and comparison, when 
love said to itself a little sorely and hungrily, 'It is 
hard to be even a fraction less to him than I once was ! ' 
But if so, these moments never betrayed themselves 
in word or act. Her tender common sense, her sweet 
humility, made her recognise at once Robert's need 
of intellectual comradeship, isolated as he was in this 
remote rural district. She knew perfectly that a cler- 
gyman's life of perpetual giving-forth becomes morbid 
and unhealthy if there is not some corresponding 
taking-in. 

If only it had not been Mr. Wendover! She mar- 
velled over the fascination Robert found in his dry 
cynical talk. She wondered that a Christian pastor 
could ever forget Mr. Wend over's antecedents; that 
the man who had nursed those sick children could for- 
[ 18 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

give Mile End. All in all as they were to each other, 
she felt for the first time that she often understood her 
husband imperfectly. His mobility, his eagerness, 
were sometimes now a perplexity, even a pain to her. 

It must not be imagined, however, that Robert let 
himself drift into this intellectual intimacy with one 
of the most distinguished of anti-Christian thinkers 
without reflecting on its possible consequences. The 
memory of that night of misery which 'The Idols of 
the Market-place' had inflicted on him was enough. 
He was no match in controversy for Mr. Wendover, 
and he did not mean to attempt it. 

One morning the squire unexpectedly plunged into 
an account of a German monograph he had just re- 
ceived on the subject of the Johannine authorship of 
the Fourth Gospel. It was almost the first occasion on 
which he had touched what may strictly be called the 
materiel of orthodoxy in their discussions at any 
rate directly. But the book was a striking one, and in 
the interest of it he had clearly forgotten his ground a 
little. Suddenly the man who was walking beside him 
interrupted him. 

' I think we ought to understand one another, per- 
haps, Mr. Wendover/ Robert said, speaking under a 
quick sense of oppression, but with his usual dignity 
and bright courtesy. ' I know your opinions, of course, 
from your books ; you know what mine, as an honest 
man, must be, from the position I hold. My conscience 
does not forbid me to discuss anything, only I am 
no match for you on points of scholarship, and I 
should just like to say once for all, that to me, what- 
ever else is true, the religion of Christ is true. I am a 
[ 19 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

Christian and a Christian minister. Therefore, when- 
ever we come to discuss what may be called Christian 
evidence, I do it with reserves, which you would not 
have. I believe in an Incarnation, a Resurrection, a 
Revelation. If there are literary difficulties, I must 
want to smooth them away you may want to make 
much of them. We come to the matter from different 
points of view. You will not quarrel with me for want- 
ing to make it clear. It is n't as if we differed slightly. 
We differ fundamentally is it not so?' 

The squire was walking beside him with bent 
shoulders, the lower lip pushed forward, as was usual 
with him when he was considering a matter with close 
attention, but did not mean to communicate his 
thoughts. 

After a pause he said, with a faint inscrutable 
smile, 

'Your reminder is perfectly just. Naturally we all 
have our reserves. Neither of us can be expected to 
stultify his own/ 

And the talk went forward again, Robert joining in 
more buoyantly than ever, perhaps because he had 
achieved a necessary but disagreeable thing and got 
done with it. 

In reality he had but been doing as the child does 
when it sets up its sand-barrier against the tide. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

IT was the beginning of April. The gorse was fast ex- 
tending its golden empire over the commons. On the 
sunny slopes of the copses primroses were breaking 
through the hazel roots and beginning to gleam along 
the edges of the river. On the grass commons between 
Murewell and Mile End the birches rose like green 
clouds against the browns and purples of the still leaf- 
less oaks and beeches. The birds were twittering and 
building. Every day Robert was on the look-out for 
the swallows, or listening for the first notes of the 
nightingale amid the bare spring coverts. 

But the spring was less perfectly delightful to him 
than it might have been, for Catherine was away. 
Mrs. Leyburn, who was to have come South to them in 
February, was attacked by bronchitis instead at Bur- 
wood and forbidden to move, even to a warmer climate. 
In March, Catherine, feeling restless and anxious about 
her mother, and thinking it hard that Agnes should 
have all the nursing and responsibility, tore herself 
from her man and. her baby, and went North to Whin- 
dale for a fortnight, leaving Robert forlorn. 

Now, however, she was in London, whither she had 
gone for a few days on her way home, to meet Rose 
and to shop. Robert's opinion was that all women, 
even Saint Elizabeths, have somewhere rooted in them 
an inordinate partiality for shopping; otherwise why 
should that operation take four or five mortal days? 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Surely with a little energy, one might buy up the whole 
of London in twelve hours! However, Catherine lin- 
gered, and as her purchases were made, Robert crossly 
supposed it must be all Rose's fault. He believed that 
Rose spent a great deal too much on dress. 

Catherine's letters, of course, were full of her sister. 
Rose, she said, had come back from Berlin handsomer 
than ever, and playing, she supposed, magnificently. 
At any rate, the letters which followed her in shoals 
from Berlin flattered her to the skies, and during the 
three months preceding her return Joachim himself 
had taken her as a pupil and given her unusual atten- 
tion. 

'And now, of course/ wrote Catherine, 'she is 
desperately disappointed that mamma and Agnes 
cannot join her in town, as she had hoped. She does 
her best, I know, poor child, to conceal it and to feel 
as she ought about mamma, but I can see that the 
idea of an indefinite time at Burwood is intolerable 
to her. As to Berlin, I think she has enjoyed it, but 
she talks very scornfully of German Schwdrmerei and 
German women, and she tells the oddest stories of 
her professors. With one or two of them she seems to 
have been in a state of war from the beginning ; but 
some of them, my dear Robert, I am persuaded were 
just simply in love with her ! 

' I don't no, I never shall believe, that independ- 
ent exciting student's life is good for a girl. But I 
never say so to Rose. When she forgets to be irritable 
and to feel that the world is going against her, she is 
often very sweet to me, and I can't bear there should 
be any conflict.' 



THE SQUIRE 

His next day's letter contained the following: 

'Are you properly amused, sir, at your wife's per- 
formances in town ? Our three concerts you have heard 
all about. I still can't get over them. I go about 
haunted by the seriousness, the life-and-death interest 
people throw into music. It is astonishing ! And out- 
side, as we got into our hansom, such sights and 
sounds ! such starved fierce-looking men, such 
ghastly women! 

' But since then Rose has been taking me into society. 
Yesterday afternoon, after I wrote to you, we went to 
see Rose's artistic friends the Piersons with whom 
she was staying last summer, and to-day we have 
even called on Lady Charlotte Wynnstay. 

'As to Mrs. Pierson, I never saw such an odd bundle 
of ribbons and rags and queer embroideries as she 
looked when we called. However, Rose says that, for 
"an aesthete" -she despises them now herself - 
Mrs. Pierson has wonderful taste, and that her wall- 
papers and her gowns, if I only understood them, are 
not the least like those of other aesthetic persons, but 
very recherche which may be. She talked to Rose 
of nothing but acting, especially of Madame Desforets. 
No one, according to her, has anything to do with an 
actress's private life, or ought to take it into account. 
But, Robert, dear, an actress is a woman, and has 
a soul! 

'Then Lady Charlotte, you would have laughed 
at our entree. 

'We found she was in town, and went on her "day," 
as she had asked Rose to do. The room was rather 
dark none of these London rooms seem to me to 
[ 23 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

have any light and air in them. The butler got our 
names wrong, and I marched in first, more shy than I 
ever have been before in my life. Lady Charlotte had 
two gentlemen with her. She evidently did not know 
me in the least ; she stood staring at me with her eye- 
glass on, and her cap so crooked I could think of no- 
thing but a wish to put it straight. Then Rose fok 
lowed, and in a few minutes it seemed to me as though 
it were Rose who were hostess, talking to the two 
gentlemen and being kind to Lady Charlotte. I am 
sure everybody in the room was amused by her self- 
possession, Lady Charlotte included. The gentlemen 
stared at her a great deal, and Lady Charlotte paid 
her one or two compliments on her looks, which I 
thought she would not have ventured to pay to any 
one in her own circle. 

'We stayed about half an hour. One of the gentle- 
men was, I believe, a member of the Government, an 
under-secretary for something, but he and Rose and 
Lady Charlotte talked again of nothing but musicians 
and actors. It is strange that politicians should have 
time to know so much of these things. The other gen- 
tleman reminded me of Hotspur's popinjay. I think 
now I made out that he wrote for the newspapers, but 
at the moment I should have felt it insulting to accuse 
him of anything so humdrum as an occupation in life. 
He discovered somehow that I had an interest in the 
Church, and he asked me, leaning back in his chair 
and lisping, whether I really thought "the Church 
could still totter on a while in the rural dithtricts." 
He was informed her condition was so "vewy deth- 
perate." 

[ 24 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

'Then I laughed outright, and found my tongue. 
Perhaps his next article on the Church will have a few 
facts in it. I did my best to put some into him. Rose 
at last looked round at me, astonished. But he did not 
dislike me, I think. I was not impertinent to him, 
husband mine. If I might have described just one of 
your days to his high-and -mightiness ! There is no 
need to tell you, I think, whether I did or not. 

' Then when we got up to go, Lady Charlotte asked 
Rose to stay with her. Rose explained why she 
could n't, and Lady Charlotte pitied her dreadfully for 
having a family, and the under-secretary said that it 
was one's first duty in life to trample on one's rela- 
tions, and that he hoped nothing would prevent his 
hearing her play some time later in the year. Rose 
said very decidedly she should be in town for the 
winter. Lady Charlotte said she would have an even- 
ing specially for her, and as I said nothing, we got 
away at last/ 

The letter of the following day recorded a little 
adventure : 

'I was much startled this morning. I had got Rose 
to come with me to the National Gallery on our way to 
her dressmaker. We were standing before Raphael's 
"Vigil of the Knight," when suddenly I saw Rose, who 
was looking away towards the door into the long 
gallery, turn perfectly white. I followed her eyes, and 
there, in the doorway, disappearing, I am almost 
certain, was Mr. Langham ! One cannot mistake his 
walk or his profile. Before I could say a word Rose 
had walked away to another wall of pictures, and 
when we joined again we did not speak of it. Did he 
[ 25 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

see us, I wonder, and purposely avoid us? Something 
made me think so. 

' Oh, I wish I could believe she had forgotten him ! 
I am certain she would laugh me to angry scorn if I 
mentioned him ; but there she sits by the fire now, 
while I am writing, quite drooping and pale, because 
she thinks I am not noticing. If she did but love me 
a little more ! It must be my fault, I know. 

' Yes, as you say, Burwood may as well be shut up 
or let. My dear, dear father!' 

Robert could imagine the sigh with which Catherine 
had laid down her pen. Dear tender soul, with all its 
old-world fidelities and pieties pure and unimpaired ! 
He raised the signature to his lips. 

Next day Catherine came back to him. Robert had 
no words too opprobrious for the widowed condition 
from which her return had rescued him. It seemed to 
Catherine, however, that life had been very full and 
keen with him since her departure ! He lingered with 
her after supper, vowing that his club boys might 
make what hay in the study they pleased; he was 
going to tell her the news, whatever happened. 

' I told you of my two dinners at the Hall ? The first 
was just tete-a-tete with the squire oh, and Mrs. 
Darcy, of course. I am always forgetting her, poor 
little thing, which is most ungrateful of me. A pathetic 
life that, Catherine. She seems to me, in her odd way, 
perpetually hungering for affection, for praise. No 
doubt, if she got them, she would n't know what to 
do with them. She would just touch and leave them 
as she does everything. Her talk and she are both as 
light and wandering as thistle-down. But still, mean- 
[ 26 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

while, she hungers, and is never satisfied. There seems 
to be something peculiarly antipathetic in her to the 
squire. I can't make it out. He is sometimes quite 
brutal to her when she is more inconsequent than 
usual. I often wonder she goes on living with him*/ 

Catherine made some indignant comment. 

' Yes/ said Robert, musing. ' Yes, it is bad/ 

But Catherine thought his tone might have been 
more unqualified, and marvelled again at the curious 
lenity of judgement he had always shown of late 
towards Mr. Wendover. And all his judgements of 
himself and others were generally so quick, so uncom- 
promising ! 

' On the second occasion we had Freake and Dash- 
wood/ naming two well-known English antiquarians. 
'Very learned, very jealous, and very snuffy; alto- 
gether "too genuine/' as poor mother used to say of 
those old chairs we got for the dining-room. But 
afterwards when we were all smoking in the library, 
the squire came out .of his shell and talked. I never 
heard him more brilliant ! ' 

He paused a moment, his bright eyes looking far 
away from her, as though fixed on the scene he was 
describing. 

' Such a mind ! ' he said at last,' with a long breath, 
' such a memory ! Catherine, my book has been making 
great strides since you left. With Mr. Wendover to go 
to, all the problems are simplified. One is saved all 
false starts, all beating about the bush. What a piece 
of luck it was that put one down beside such a guide, 
such a living storehouse of knowledge ! ' 

He spoke in a glow of energy and enthusiasm. 
[ 27 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Catherine sat looking at him wistfully, her grey eyes 
crossed by many varying shades of memory and feeling. 

At last his look met hers, and the animation of it 
softened at once, grew gentle. 

' Do you think I am making knowledge too much of 
a god just now, Madonna mine?' he said, throwing 
himself down beside her. ' I have been full of qualms 
myself. The squire excites one so, makes one feel as 
though intellect accumulation were the whole 
of life. But I struggle against it I do. I go on, for 
instance, trying to make the squire do his social duties 
behave like "a human."' 

Catherine could not help smiling at his tone. 

'Well? 'she inquired. 

He shook his head ruefully. 

'The squire is a tough customer most men of 
sixty-seven with strong wills are, I suppose. At any 
rate, he is like one of the Thurston trout sees through 
all my manoeuvres. But one piece of news will astonish 
you, Catherine ! ' And he sprang up to deliver it with 
effect. 'Henslowe is dismissed.' 

'Henslowe dismissed!' Catherine sat properly 
amazed while Robert told the story. 

The dismissal of Henslowe indeed represented the 
price which Mr. Wendover had been so far willing to 
pay for Elsmere's society. Some quid pro quo there 
must be that he was prepared to admit consid- 
ering their relative positions as squire and parson. 
But, as Robert shrewdly suspected, not one of his 
wiles so far had imposed on the master of Murewell. 
He had his own sarcastic smiles over them, and over 
Elsmere's pastoral na/ivete in general. The evidences 
[ 28 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

of the young rector's power and popularity were, how- 
ever, on the whole, pleasant to Mr. Wendover. If 
Elsmere had his will with all the rest of the world, Mr. 
Wendover knew perfectly well who it was that at the 
present moment had his will with Elsmere. He had 
found a great piquancy in this shaping of a mind more 
intellectually eager and pliant than any he had yet 
come across among younger men ; perpetual food too, 
for his sense of irony, in the intellectual contradictions, 
wherein Elsmere's developing ideas and information 
were now, according to the squire, involving him at 
every turn. 

'His religious foundations are gone already, if he 
did but know it/ Mr. Wendover grimly remarked to 
himself one day about this time, 'but he will take 
so long finding it out that the results are not worth 
speculating on/ 

Cynically assured, therefore, at bottom of his own 
power with this ebullient nature, the squire was quite 
prepared to make external 'concessions, or, as we have 
said, to pay his price. It annoyed him that when 
Elsmere would press for allotment land, or a new in- 
stitute, or a better supply of water for the village, it 
was not open to him merely to give carte blanche, and 
refer his petitioner to Henslowe. Robert's opinion of 
Henslowe, and Henslowe's now more cautious but still 
incessant hostility to the rector, were patent at last 
even to the squire. The situation was worrying and 
wasted time. It must be changed. 

So one morning he met Elsmere with a bundle of 
letters in his hand, calmly informed him that Henslowe 
had been sent about his business, and that it would be 
[ 29 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

a kindness if Mr. Elsmere would do him the favour of 
looking through some applications for the vacant post 
just received. 

Elsmere, much taken by surprise, felt at first as it 
was natural for an over-sensitive, over-scrupulous man 
to feel. His enemy had been given into his hand, and 
instead of victory he could only realise that he had 
brought a man to _ ruin. 

' He has a wife and children/ he said quickly, looking 
at the squire. 

'Of course I have pensioned him/ replied the squire 
impatiently ; ' otherwise I imagine he would be hanging 
round our necks to the end of the chapter/ 

There was something in the careless indifference of 
the tone which sent a shiver through Elsmere. After 
all, this man had served the squire for fifteen years, 
and it was not Mr. Wendover who had much to com- 
plain of. 

No one with a conscience could have held out a fin- 
ger to keep Henslowe in his post. But though Elsmere 
took the letters and promised to give them his best 
attention, as soon as he got home he made himself ir- 
rationally miserable over the matter. It was not his 
fault that, from the moment of his arrival in the parish, 
Henslowe had made him the target of a vulgar and 
embittered hostility, and so far as he had struck out 
in return it had been for the protection of persecuted 
and defenceless creatures. But all the same, he could 
not get the thought of the man's collapse and humilia- 
tion out of his mind. How at his age was he to find 
other work, and how was he to endure life at Mure- 
well without his comfortable house, his smart gig, 

[ 30 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

his easy command of spirits, and the cringing of the 
farmers? 

Tormented by the sordid misery of the situation 
almost as though it had been his own, Elsmere ran 
down impulsively in the evening to the agent's house. 
Could nothing be done to assure the man that he was 
not really his enemy, and that anything the parson's 
influence and the parson's money could do to help him 
to a more decent life, and work which offered fewer 
temptations and less power over human beings, should 
be done? 

It need hardly be said that the visit was a complete 
failure. Henslowe, who was drinking hard, no sooner 
heard Elsmere's voice in the little hall than he dashed 
open the door which separated them, and, in a par- 
oxysm of drunken rage, hurled at Elsmere all the 
venomous stuff he had been garnering up for months 
against some such occasion. The vilest abuse, the 
foulest charges there was nothing that the mad- 
dened sot, now fairly unmasked, denied himself. Els- 
mere, pale and erect, tried to make himself heard. In 
vain. Henslowe was physically incapable of taking in 
a word. 

At last the agent, beside himself, made a rush, his 
three untidy children, who had been hanging open- 
mouthed in the background, set up a howl of terror, 
and his Scotch wife, more pinched and sour than ever, 
who had been so far a gloomy spectator of the scene, 
interposed. 

'Have doon wi' ye/ she said sullenly, putting out 
a long bony arm in front of her husband, 'or I'll just 
lock oop that brandy where ye '11 naw find it if ye pull 
[ 31 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

the house doon. Now, sir/ turning to Elsmere, 'would 
ye jest be going? Ye mean it weel, I daur say, but 
ye 've doon yer wark, and ye maun leave it.' 

And she motioned him out, not without a sombre 
dignity. Elsmere went home crestfallen. The en- 
thusiast is a good deal too apt to underestimate the 
stubbornness of moral fact, and these rebuffs have 
their stern uses for character. 

'They intend to go on living here, I am told/ Els- 
mere said, as he wound up the story, 'and as Henslowe 
is still churchwarden, he may do us a world of mischief 
yet. However, I think that wife will keep him in 
order. No doubt vengeance would be sweet to her as 
to him, but she has a shrewd eye, poor soul, to the 
squire's remittances. It is a wretched business, and I 
don't take a man's hate easily, Catherine ! though 
it may be a folly to say so/ 

Catherine was irresponsive. The Old Testament ele- 
ment in her found a lawful satisfaction, in Henslowe's 
fall, and a wicked man's hatred, according to her, 
mattered only to himself. The squire's conduct, on 
the other hand, made her uneasily proud. To her, 
naturally, it simply meant that he was falling under 
Robert's spell. So much the better for him, but 



CHAPTER XXIV 

THAT same afternoon Robert started on a walk to a 
distant farm, where one of his Sunday-school boys lay 
recovering from rheumatic fever. The rector had his 
pocket full of articles a story-book in one, a puzzle 
map in the other destined for Master Carter's 
amusement. On the way he was to pick up Mr. Wend- 
over at the park gates. 

It was a delicious April morning. A soft west wind 
blew through leaf and 'grass - 

'Driving sweet buds, like flocks, to feed in air.' 

The spring was stirring everywhere, and Robert raced 
along, feeling in every vein a life, an ebullience akin 
to that of Nature. As he neared the place of meeting 
it occurred to him that the squire had been unusually 
busy lately, unusually silent and absent too on their 
walks. What was he always at work on? Robert had 
often inquired of him as to the nature of those piles 
of proof and manuscript with which his table was 
littered. The squire had never given any but the most 
general answer, and had always changed the subject. 
There was an invincible personal reserve about him 
which, through all his walks and talks with Elsmere, 
had never as yet broken down. He would talk of other 
men and other men's labours by the hour, but not of 
his own. Elsmere reflected on the fact, mingling with 
the reflexion a certain humorous scorn of his own 
constant openness and readiness to take counsel with 
the world. 

[ 33 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'However, his book is n't a mere excuse, as Lang- 
ham's is/ Elsmere inwardly remarked. 'Langham, in 
a certain sense, plays even with learning; Mr. Wend- 
over plays at nothing/ 

By the way, he had a letter from Langham in his 
pocket much more cheerful and human than usual. 
Let him look through it again. 

Not a word, of course, of that National Gallery 
experience ! a circumstance, however, which threw 
no light on it either way. 

' I find myself a good deal reconciled to life by this 
migration of mine/ wrote Langham. 'Now that my 
enforced duties to them are all done with, my fellow- 
creatures seem to me much more decent fellows than 
before. The great stir of London, in which, unless I 
please, I have no part whatever, attracts me more 
than I could have thought possible. No one in these 
noisy streets has any rightful claim upon me. I have 
cut away at one stroke lectures, and Boards of Studies, 
and tutors' meetings, and all the rest of the wearisome 
Oxford make-believe, and the creature left behind 
feels lighter and nimbler than he has felt for years. 
I go to concerts and theatres ; I look at the people in 
the streets ; I even begin to take an outsider's interest 
in social questions, in the puny dykes which well- 
meaning people are trying to raise all round us against 
the encroaching, devastating labour-troubles of the 
future. By dint of running away from life, I may end 
by cutting a much more passable figure in it than 
before. Be consoled, my dear Elsmere; reconsider 
your remonstrances.' 



THE SQUIRE 

There, under the great cedar by the gate, stood Mr. 
Wendover. Illumined as he was by the spring sun- 
shine, he struck Elsmere as looking unusually shrunken 
and old. And yet under the look of physical exhaus- 
tion there was a new serenity, almost a peacefulness of 
expression, which gave the whole man a different aspect. 

'Don't take me far/ he said abruptly, as they 
started. ' I have not got the energy for it. I have been 
overworking, and must go away/ 

'I have been sure of it for some time/ said Elsmere 
warmly. ' You ought to have a long rest. But may n't 
I know, Mr. Wendover, before you take it, what this 
great task is you have been toiling at? Remember, 
you have never told me a word of it/ 

And Elsmere 's smile had in it a touch of most 
friendly reproach. Fatigue had left the scholar re- 
laxed, comparatively defenceless. His sunk and 
wrinkled eyes lit up with a smile, faint indeed, but of 
unwonted softness. 

'A task indeed/ he said with a sigh, 'the task of 
a lifetime. To-day I finished the second third of it. 
Probably before the last section is begun some inter- 
loping German will have stepped down before me; 
it is the way of the race ! But for the moment there is 
the satisfaction of having come to an end of some sort 
- a natural halt, at any rate/ 

Elsmere's eyes were still interrogative! 'Oh, well/ 
said the squire hastily, 'it is a book I planned just after 
I took my doctor's degree at Berlin. It struck me then 
as the great want of modern scholarship. It is a " His- 
tory of Evidence/' or rather, more strictly, a " History 
of Testimony.'" 

I 35 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Robert started. The library flashed into his mind, 
and Langham's figure in the long grey coat sitting on 
the stool. 

'A great subject/ he said slowly, 'a magnificent 
subject. How have you conceived it, I wonder?' 

' Simply from the standpoint of evolution, of devel- 
opment. The philosophical value of the subject is 
enormous. You must have considered it, of course; 
every historian must. But few people have any idea 
in detail of the amount of light which the history of 
human witness in the world, systematically carried 
through, throws on the history of the human mind ; 
that is to say, on the history of ideas/ 

The squire paused, his keen scrutinising look dwelling 
on the face beside him, as though to judge whether he 
were understood. 

' Oh, true ! ' cried Elsmere ; ' most true. Now I know 
what vague want it is that has been haunting me for 
months - 

He stopped short, his look, aglow with all the young 
thinker's ardour, fixed on the squire. 

The squire received the outburst in silence a 
somewhat ambiguous silence. 

'But go on/ said Elsmere; 'please go on/ 

'Well, you remember/ said the squire slowly, 'that 
when Tractarianism began I was for a time one of 
Newman's victims. Then, when Newman departed, 
I went over body and bones to the Liberal reaction 
which followed his going. In the first ardour of what 
seemed to me a release from slavery I migrated to 
Berlin, in search of knowledge which there was no 
getting in England, and there, with the taste of a 
[ 36 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

dozen aimless theological controversies still in my 
mouth, this idea first took hold of me. It was simply 
this : Could one through an exhaustive examination 
of human records, helped by modern physiological 
and mental science, get at the conditions, physical and 
mental, which govern the greater or lesser correspond- 
ence between human witness and the fact it reports?' 

' A giant's task ! ' cried Robert ; ' hardly conceivable !' 

The squire smiled slightly the smile of a man who 
looks back with indulgent half-melancholy satire on 
the rash ambitions of his youth. 

'Naturally/ he resumed, 'I soon saw I must restrict 
myself to European testimony, and that only up to 
the Renaissance. To do that, of course, I had to dig 
into the East, to learn several Oriental languages - 
Sanskrit among them. Hebrew I already knew. Then, 
when I had got my languages, I began to work steadily 
through the whole mass of existing records, sifting and 
comparing. It is thirty years since I started. Fifteen 
years ago I finished the section dealing with classical 
antiquity with India, Persia, Egypt, and Judea. 
To-day I have put the last strokes to a History of 
Testimony from the Christian era down to the sixth 
century from Livy to Gregory of Tours, from Au- 
gustus to Justinian/ 

Elsmere turned to him with wonder, with a move- 
ment of irrepressible homage. Thirty years of un- 
broken solitary labour for one end, one cause ! In our 
hurried fragmentary life, a purpose of this tenacity, 
this power of realising itself, strikes the imagination. 

'And your two books?' 

'Were a mere interlude,' replied the squire briefly. 
[ 37 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'After the completion of the first part of my work, 
there were certain deposits left in me which it was 
a relief to get rid of, especially in connexion with my 
renewed impressions of England/ he added drily. 

Elsmere was silent, thinking this then was the ex- 
planation of the squire's minute and exhaustive know- 
ledge of the early Christian centuries, a knowledge 
into which apart from certain forbidden topics - 
he had himself dipped so freely. Suddenly, as he 
mused, there awoke in the young man a new hunger, 
a new unmanageable impulse towards frankness of 
speech. All his nascent intellectual powers were alive 
and clamorous. For the moment his past reticences 
and timidities looked to him absurd. The mind re- 
belled against the barriers it had been rearing against 
itself. It rushed on to sweep them away, crying out 
that all this shrinking from free discussion had been 
at bottom 'a mere treason to faith/ 

'Naturally, Mr. Wendover/ he said at last, and his 
tone had a half-defiant, half-nervous energy, 'you 
have given your best attention all these years to the 
Christian problems/ 

'Naturally/ said the squire drily. 

Then, as his companion still seemed to wait, keenly 
expectant, he resumed, with something cynical in the 
smile which accompanied the words, 

'But I have no wish to infringe our convention/ 

'A convention was it? ' replied Elsmere, flushing. ' I 
think I only wanted to make my own position clear 
and prevent misunderstanding. But it is impossible 
that I should be indifferent to the results of thirty 
years' such work as you can give to so great a subject/ 
[ 38 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

The squire drew himself up a little under his cloak 
and seemed to consider. His tired eyes, fixed on the 
spring lane before them, saw in reality only the long 
retrospects of the past. Then a light broke in them, 
transformed them a light of battle. He turned to 
the man beside him, and his sharp look swept over 
him from head to foot. Well, if he would have it, let 
him have it. He had been contemptuously content so 
far to let the subject be. But Mr. Wendover, in spite 
of his philosophy, had never been proof all his life 
against an anti-clerical instinct worthy almost of a 
Paris municipal councillor. In spite of his fatigue 
there woke in him a kind of cruel whimsical pleasure 
at the notion of speaking, once for all, what he con- 
ceived to be the whole bare truth to this clever 
attractive dreamer, to the young fellow who thought 
he could condescend to science from the standpoint of 
the Christian miracles! 

'Results?' he said interrogatively. 'Well, as you 
will understand, it is tolerably difficult to summarise 
such a mass at a moment's notice. But I can give you 
the lines of my last volumes, if it would interest you 
to hear them.' 

That walk prolonged itself far beyond Mr. Wend- 
over 's original intention. There was something in the 
situation, in Elsmere's comments, or arguments, or 
silences, which after a while banished the scholar's 
sense of exhaustion and made him oblivious of the 
country distances. No man feels another's soul quiv- 
ering and struggling in his grasp without excitement, 
let his nerve and his self-restraint be what they may. 

As for Elsmere, that hour and a half, little as he 
F 39 1 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

realised it at the time, represented the turning-point 
of life. He listened, he suggested, he put in an acute 
remark here, an argument there, such as the squire 
had often difficulty in meeting. Every now and then 
the inner protest of an attacked faith would break 
through in words so full of poignancy, in imagery so 
dramatic, that the squire's closely-knit sentences 
would be for the moment wholly disarranged. On the 
whole, he proved himself no mean guardian of all that 
was most sacred to himself and to Catherine, and the 
squire's intellectual respect for him rose consider- 
ably. 

All the same, by the end of their conversation that 
first period of happy unclouded youth we have been 
considering was over for poor Elsmere. In obedience 
to certain inevitable laws and instincts of the mind, 
he had been for months tempting his fate, inviting 
catastrophe. None the less did the first sure approaches 
of that catastrophe fill him with a restless resistance 
which was in itself anguish. 

As to the squire's talk, it was simply the outpouring 
of one of the richest, most sceptical, and most highly- 
trained of minds on the subject of Christian origins. 
At no previous period of his life would it have greatly 
affected Elsmere. But now at every step the ideas, 
impressions, arguments bred in him by his months of 
historical work and ordinary converse with the squire 
rushed in, as they had done once before, to cripple 
resistance, to check an emerging answer, to justify 
Mr. Wendover. 

We may quote a few fragmentary utterances taken 
almost at random from the long wrestle of the two 

[ 40 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

men, for the sake of indicating the main lines of a 
bitter after-struggle. 

'Testimony like every other human product has 
developed. Man's power of apprehending and recording 
what he sees and hears has grown from less to more, 
from weaker to stronger, like any other of his faculties, 
just as the reasoning powers of the cave-dweller have 
developed into the reasoning powers of a Kant. What 
one wants is the ordered proof of this, and it can be 
got from history and experience/ 

To plunge into the Christian period without having 
first cleared the mind as to what is meant in history 
and literature by "the critical method," which in his- 
tory may be defined as " the science of what is credible/' 
and in literature as "the science of what is rational," 
is to invite fiasco. The theologian in such a state sees 
no obstacle to accepting an arbitrary list of documents 
with all the strange stuff they may contain, and declar- 
ing them to be sound historical material, while he 
applies to all the strange stuff of a similar kind sur- 
rounding them the most rigorous principles of modern 
science. Or he has to make-believe that the reasoning 
processes exhibited in the speeches of the Acts, in 
certain passages of St. Paul's Epistles, or in the Old 
Testament quotations in the Gospels, have a validity 
for the mind of the nineteenth century, when in truth 
they are the imperfect, half-childish products of the 
mind of the first century, of quite insignificant or in- 
direct value to the historian of fact, of enormous value 
to the historian of testimony and its varieties/ 
[ 41 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Suppose, for instance, before I begin to deal with 
the Christian story, and the earliest Christian devel- 
opment, I try to make out beforehand what are the 
moulds, the channels into which the testimony of the 
time must run. I look for these moulds, of course, in 
the dominant ideas, the intellectual preconceptions 
and preoccupations existing when the period begins. 

In the first place, I shall find present in the age 
which saw the birth of Christianity, as in so many 
other ages, a universal preconception in favour of 
miracle that is to say, of deviations from the com- 
mon norm of experience, governing the work of all 
men of all schools. Very well, allow for it then. Read 
the testimony of the period in the light of it. Be pre- 
pared for the inevitable differences between it and the 
testimony of your own day. The witness of the time 
is not true, nor, in the strict sense, false. It is merely 
incompetent, half -trained, pre-scientific, but all 
through perfectly natural. The wonder would have 
been to have had a Life of Christ without miracles. 
The air teems with them. The East is full of Mes- 
siahs. Even a Tacitus is superstitious. Even a Ves- 
pasian works miracles. Even a Nero cannot die, but 
fifty years after his death is still looked for as the in- 
augurator of a millennium of horror. The Resurrec- 
tion is partly invented, partly imagined, partly ideally 
true in any case wholly intelligible and natural, as 
a product of the age, when once you have the key of 
that age. 

' In the next place, look for the preconceptions that 
have a definite historical origin; those, for instance, 
flowing from the pre-Christian, apocalyptic literature 
[ 42 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

of the Jews, taking the Maccabean legend of Daniel 
as the centre of inquiry those flowing from Alexan- 
drian Judaism and the school of Philo those flowing 
from the Palestinian schools of exegesis. Examine 
your synoptic gospels, your Gospel of St. John, your 
Apocalypse, in the light of these. You have no other 
chance of understanding them. But so examined, 
they fall into place, become explicable and rational ; 
such material as science can make full use of. The 
doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, Christian eschato- 
logy, and Christian views of prophecy will also have 
found their place in a sound historical scheme!' 

' It is discreditable now for the man of intelligence 
to refuse to read his Livy in the light of his Mommsen. 
My object has been to help in making it discreditable 
to him to refuse to read his Christian documents in the 
light of a trained scientific criticism. We shall have 
made some positive advance in rationality when the 
man who is perfectly capable of dealing sanely with 
legend in one connexion, and, in another, will insist 
on confounding it with history proper, cannot do so 
any longer without losing caste, without falling ipso 
facto out of court with men of education. It is enough 
for a man of letters if he has helped ever so little in 
the final staking-out of the boundaries between reason 
and unreason ! ' 

And so on. These are mere ragged gleanings from 

an ample store. The discussion in reality ranged over 

the whole field of history, plunged into philosophy, 

and into the subtlest problems of mind. At the end 

[ 43 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

of it, after he had been conscious for many bitter 
moments of that same constriction of heart which had 
overtaken him once before at Mr. Wendover's hands, 
the religious passion in Elsmere once more rose with 
sudden stubborn energy against the iron negations 
pressed upon it. 

'I will not fight you any more, Mr. Wendover/ he 
said, with his moved flashing look. 'I am perfectly 
conscious that my own mental experience of the last 
two years has made it necessary to re-examine some 
of these intellectual foundations of faith. But as to 
the faith itself, that is its own witness. It does not 
depend, after all, upon anything external, but upon 
the living voice of the Eternal in the soul of man!' 

Involuntarily his pace quickened. The whole man 
was gathered into one great, useless, pitiful defiance, 
and the outer world was forgotten. The squire kept 
up with difficulty a while, a faint glimmer of sarcasm 
playing now and then round the straight thin-lipped 
mouth. Then suddenly he stopped. 

'No, let it be. Forget me and my book, Elsmere. 
Everything can be got out of in this world. By the 
way, we seem to have reached the ends of the earth. 
Those are the new Mile End cottages, I believe. With 
your leave, I '11 sit down in one of them, and send to 
the Hall for the carriage.' 

Elsmere's repentant attention was drawn at once 
to his companion. 

' I am a selfish idiot,' he said hotly, 'to have led you 
into over-walking and over-talking like this.' 

The squire made some short reply and instantly 
turned the matter off. The momentary softness which 
.[ 44 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

had marked his meeting with Elsmere had entirely 
vanished, leaving only the Mr. Wendover of every day, 
who was merely made awkward and unapproachable 
by the slightest touch of personal sympathy. No 
living being, certainly not his foolish little sister, had 
any right to take care of the squire. And as the signs 
of age became more apparent, this one fact had often 
worked powerfully on the sympathies of Elsmere's 
chivalrous youth, though as yet he had been no more 
capable than any one else of breaking through the 
squire's haughty reserve. 

As they turned down the newly-worn track to the 
cottages, whereof the weekly progress had been for 
some time the delight of Elsmere's heart, they met old 
Meyrick in his pony-carriage. He stopped his shamb- 
ling steed at sight of the pair. The bleared spectacled 
eyes lit up, the prim mouth broke into a smile which 
matched the April sun. 

'Well, Squire; well, Mr. Elsmere, are you going to 
have a look at those places? Never saw such palaces. 
I onl^Joope 1 may end my days in anything so good. 

ill you give me a lease, Squire?' 

Mr. Wendover 's deep eyes took a momentary sur- 
vey, half-indulgent, half -contemptuous, of the naive, 
awkward-looking old creature in the pony-carriage. 
Then, without troubling to find an answer, he went 
his way. 

Robert stayed chatting a moment or two, knowing 
perfectly well what Meyrick's gay garrulity meant. A 
sharp and bitter sense of the ironies of life swept across 
him. The squire humanised, influenced by him he 
knew that was the image in Meyrick's mind ; he remem- 
[ 45 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

bered with a quiet scorn its presence in his own. And 
never, never had he felt his own weakness and the 
strength of that grim personality so much as at that 
instant. 

That evening Catherine noticed an unusual silence 
and depression in Robert. She did her best to cheer 
it away, to get at the cause of it. In vain. At -last, 
with her usual wise tenderness, she left him alone, 
conscious herself, as she closed the study-door behind 
her, of a momentary dreariness of soul, coming she 
knew not whence, and only dispersed by the instinct- 
ive upward leap of prayer. 

Robert was no sooner alone than he put down his 
pipe and sat brooding over the fire. All the long de- 
bate of the afternoon began to fight itself out again 
in the shrinking mind. Suddenly, in his restless pain, 
a thought occurred to him. He had been much struck 
in the squire's conversation by certain allusions to 
arguments drawn from the Book of Daniel. It was 
not a subject with which Robert had any great famil- 
iarity. He remembered his Pusey dimly, certain Di- 
vinity lectures, an article of Wescott's. 

He raised his hand quickly and took down the 
monograph on ' The Use of the Old Testament in the 
New/ which the squire had sent him in the earliest 
days of their acquaintance. A secret dread and re- 
pugnance had held him from it till now. Curiously 
enough it was not he but. Catherine, as we shall see, 
who had opened it first. Now, however, he got it down 
and turned to the section on Daniel. 

It was a change of conviction on the subject of the 
date and authorship of this strange product of Jewish 
[ 46 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

patriotism in the second century before Christ that 
drove M. Renan out of the Church of Rome. ' For the 
Catholic Church to confess/ he says in his ' Souvenirs/ 
'that Daniel is an apocryphal book of the time of the 
Maccabees, would be to confess that she had made a 
mistake ; if she had made this mistake, she may have 
made others; she is no longer divinely inspired.' 

The Protestant, who is in truth more bound to the 
Book of Daniel than M. Renan, has various ways of 
getting over the difficulties raised against the supposed 
authorship of the book by modern criticism. Robert 
found all these ways enumerated in the brilliant and 
vigorous pages of the book before him. 

In the first place, like the orthodox Saint-Sulpicien, 
the Protestant meets the critic with a flat non possu- 
mus. 'Your arguments are useless and irrelevant/ he 
says in effect. 'However plausible may be your ob- 
jections, the Book of Daniel is what it professes to be, 
because our Lord quoted it in such a manner as to 
distinctly recognise its authority. The All-True and 
All-Knowing cannot \jiave made a mistake, nor can 
He have expressly led His disciples to regard as gen- 
uine and Divine, prophecies which were in truth the 
inventions of an ingenious romancer/ 

But the Liberal Anglican the man, that is to say, 
whose logical sense is inferior to his sense of literary 
probabilities proceeds quite differently. 

'Your arguments are perfectly just/ he says to the 
critic ; ' the book is a patriotic fraud, of no value except 
to the historian of literature. But how do you know 
that our Lord quoted it as true in the strict sense? In 
fact He quoted it as literature, as a Greek might have 
[ 47 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

quoted Homer, as an Englishman might quote Shake- 
speare/ 

And many a harassed Churchman takes refuge forth- 
with in the new explanation. It is very difficult, no 
doubt, to make the passages in the Gospels agree with 
it, but at the bottom of his mind there is a saving silent 
scorn for the old theories of inspiration. He admits to 
himself that probably Christ was not correctly reported 
in the matter. 

Then appears the critic, having no interests to serve, 
no parti pris to defend, and states the matter calmly, 
dispassionately, as it appears to him. ' No reasonable 
man/ says the ablest German exponent of the Book 
of Daniel, 'can doubt' --that this most interesting 
piece of writing belongs to the year 169 or 170 B. c. 
It was written to stir up the courage and patriotism of 
the Jews, weighed down by the persecutions of An- 
tiochus Epiphanes. It had enormous vogue. It in- 
augurated a new Apocalyptic literature. And clearly 
the youth of Jesus of Nazareth was vitally influenced 
by it. It entered into his thought, it helped to shape 
his career. 

But Elsmere did not trouble himself much with the 
critic, as at any rate he was reported by the author of 
the book before him. Long before the critical case was 
reached, he had flung the book heavily from him. The 
mind accomplished its further task without help from 
outside. In the stillness of the night there rose up 
weirdly before him a whole new mental picture - 
effacing, pushing out, innumerable older images of 
thought. It was the image of a purely human Christ 
a purely human, explicable, yet always wonderful 
[ 48 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

Christianity. It broke his heart, but the spell of it was 
like some dream-country wherein we see all the famil- 
iar objects of life in new relations and perspectives. 
He gazed upon it fascinated, the wailing underneath 
checked a while by the strange beauty and order of 
the emerging spectacle. Only a little while ! Then with 
a groan Elsmere looked up, his eyes worn, his lips 
white and set. 

' I must face it I must face it through ! God help 
me!' 

A slight sound overhead in Catherine's room sent a 
sudden spasm of feeling through the young face. He 
threw himself down, hiding from his own foresight of 
what was to be. 

'My darling, my darling! But she shall know no- 
thing of it yet/ 



CHAPTER XXV 

AND he did face it through. 

The next three months were the bitterest months of 
Elsmere's life. They were marked by anguished mental 
struggle, by a consciousness of painful separation from 
the soul nearest to his own, and by a constantly in- 
creasing sense of oppression, of closing avenues and 
narrowing alternatives, which for weeks together 
seemed to hold the mind in a grip whence there was 
no escape. 

That struggle was not hurried and embittered by 
the bodily presence of the squire. Mr. Wendover went 
off to Italy a few days after the conversation we have 
described. But though he was not present in the flesh 
the great book of his life was in Elsmere's hands, he 
had formally invited Elsmere's remarks upon it ; and 
the air of Murewell seemed still echoing with his sen- 
tences, still astir with his thoughts. That curious in- 
stinct of pursuit, that avid imperious wish to crush an 
irritating resistance, which his last walk with Elsmere 
had first awakened in him with any strength, per- 
sisted. He wrote to Robert from abroad, and the 
proud fastidious scholar had never taken more pains 
with anything than with those letters. 

Robert might have stopped them, might have cast 
the whole matter from him with one resolute effort. 
In other relations he had will enough and to spare. 

Was it an unexpected weakness of fibre that made 
[ 50 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

it impossible? that had placed him in this way at 
the squire's disposal? Half the world would answer 
yes. Might not the other half plead that in every gen- 
eration there is a minority of these mobile, impres- 
sionable, defenceless natures, who are ultimately at the 
mercy of experience, at the mercy of thought, at 
the mercy (shall we say?) of truth ; and that, in fact, 
it is from this minority that all human advance comes? 

During these three miserable months it cannot be 
said poor Elsmere ! that he attempted any sys- 
tematic study of Christian evidence. His mind was 
too much torn, his heart too sore. He pounced fever- 
ishly on one test point after another, on the Penta- 
teuch, the Prophets, the relation of the New Testa- 
ment to the thoughts and beliefs of its time, the Gospel 
of St. John, the evidence as to the Resurrection, the 
intellectual and moral conditions surrounding the 
formation of the Canon. His mind swayed hither and 
thither, driven from each resting-place in turn by the 
pressure of some new difficulty. And let it be said 
again all through, the only constant element in the 
whole dismal process was his trained historical sense. 
If he had gone through this conflict at Oxford, for 
instance, he would have come out of it unscathed; 
for he would simply have remained throughout it 
ignorant of the true problems at issue. As it was, the 
keen instrument he had sharpened so laboriously on 
indifferent material now ploughed its agonising way, 
bit by bit, into the most intimate recesses of thought 
and faith. 

Much of the actual struggle he was able to keep from 
Catherine's view, as he had vowed to himself to keep 
[ 51 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

it. For after the squire's departure Mrs. Darcy too 
went joyously up to London to flutter a while through 
the golden alleys of Mayfair; and Elsmere was left 
once more in undisturbed possession of the Murewell 
library. There for a while on every day oh, pitiful 
relief ! he could hide himself from the eyes he loved. 

But, after all, married love allows of nothing but 
the shallowest concealments. Catherine had already 
had one or two alarms. Once, in Robert's study, 
among a tumbled mass of books he had pulled out in 
search of something missing, and which she was put- 
ting in order, she had come across that very book on 
the Prophecies which at a critical moment had so 
deeply affected Elsmere. It lay open, and Catherine 
was caught by the heading of a section : ' The Messianic 
Idea/ 

She began to read, mechanically at first, and read 
about a page. That page so shocked a mind accus- 
tomed to a purely traditional and mystical interpreta- 
tion of the Bible that the book dropped abruptly 
from her hand, and she stood a moment by her hus- 
band's table, her fine face pale and frowning. 

She noticed, with bitterness, Mr. Wendover's name 
on the title-page. Was it right for Robert to have such 
books? Was it wise, was it prudent, for the Christian 
to measure himself against such antagonism as this? 
She wrestled painfully with the question. 'Oh, but 
I can't understand/ she .said to herself with an almost 
agonised energy. 'It is I who am timid, faithless! 
He must he must know what they say ; he must 
have gone through the dark places if he is to carry 
others through them.' 

[ 52 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

So she stilled and trampled on the inward protest. 
She yearned to speak of it to Robert, but something 
withheld her. In her passionate wifely trust she could 
not bear to seem to question the use he made of his 
time and thought ; and a delicate moral scruple warned 
her she might easily allow her dislike of the Wendover 
friendship to lead her into exaggeration and injustice. 

But the stab of that moment recurred dealt now 
by one slight incident, now by another. And after the 
squire's departure Catherine suddenly realised that 
the whole atmosphere of their home-life was changed. 

Robert was giving himself to his people with a more 
scrupulous energy than ever. Never had she seen him 
so pitiful, so full of heart for every human creature. 
His sermons, with their constant imaginative dwelling 
on the earthly life of Jesus, affected her now with a 
poignancy, a pathos, which were almost unbearable. 
And his tenderness to her was beyond words. But 
with that tenderness there was constantly mixed a 
note of remorse, a painful self -depreciation which she 
could hardly notice in speech, but which every now 
and then wrung her heart. And in his parish work he 
often showed a depression, an irritability, entirely 
new to her. He who had always the happiest power 
of forgetting to-morrow all the rubs of to-day, seemed 
now quite incapable of saving himself and his cheer- 
fulness in the old ways, nay, had developed a capacity 
for sheer worry she had never seen in him before. And 
meanwhile, all the old gossips of the place spoke their 
mind freely to Catherine on the subject of the rector's 
looks, coupling their remarks with a variety of pre- 
scriptions, out of which Robert did sometimes manage 
[ 53 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

to get one of his old laughs. His sleeplessness, too, 
which had always been a constitutional tendency, had 
become now so constant and wearing that Catherine 
began to feel a nervous hatred of his book-work, and 
of those long mornings at the Hall ; a passionate wish 
to put an end to it, and carry him away for a holi- 
day. 

But he would not hear of the holiday, and he could 
hardly bear any talk of himself. And Catherine had 
been brought up in a school of feeling which bade love 
be very scrupulous, very delicate, and which recognised 
in the strongest way the right of every human soul 
to its own privacy, its own reserves. That something 
definite troubled him she was certain. What it was 
he clearly avoided telling her, and she could not hurt 
him by impatience. 

He would tell her soon when it was right she 
cried pitifully to herself. Meantime both suffered, she 
not knowing why, clinging to each other the while 
more passionately than ever. 

One night, however, coming down in her dressing- 
gown into the study in search of a Christian Year she 
had left behind her, she found Robert with papers 
strewn before him, his arms on the table and his head 
laid down upon them. He looked up as she came in, 
and the expression of his eyes drew her to him irre- 
sistibly. 

'Were you asleep, Robert? Do come to bed!' 

He sat up, and with a pathetic gesture held out his 
arms to her. She came on to his knee, putting her 
white arms round his neck, while he leant his head 
against her breast. 

[ 54 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

'Are you tired with all your walking to-day?' she 
said presently, a pang at her heart. 

'I am tired/ he said, 'but not with walking/ 

'Does your book worry you? You should n't work 
so hard, Robert you should n't!' 

He started. 

'Don't talk of it. Don't let us talk or think at all, 
only feel ! ' 

And he tightened his arms round her, happy once 
more for a moment in this environment of a perfect 
love. There was silence for a few moments, Catherine 
feeling more and more disturbed and anxious. 

'Think of your mountains,' he said presently, his 
eyes still pressed against her, 'of High Fell, and the 
moonlight, and the house where Mary Backhouse 
died. Oh ! Catherine, I see you still, and shall always 
see you, as I saw you then, my angel of healing and of 
grace ! ' 

'I too have been thinking of her to-night,' said 
Catherine softly, 'and of the walk to Shanmoor. This 
evening in the garden it seemed to me as though there 
were Westmoreland scents in the air ! I was haunted 
by a vision of bracken, and rocks, and sheep browsing 
up the fell slopes.' 

'Oh for a breath of the wind on High Fell!' cried 
Robert, it was so new to her, the dear voice with 
this accent in it of yearning depression ! ' I want more 
of the spirit of the mountains, their serenity, their 
strength. Say me that Duddon sonnet you used to 
say to me there, as you said it to me that last Sunday 
before our wedding, when we walked up the Shan- 
moor road to say good-bye to that blessed spot. Oh ! 
[ 55 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

how I sit and think of it sometimes, when life seems 
to be going crookedly, that rock on the fell-side where 
I found you, and caught you, and snared you, my 
dove, for ever/ 

And Catherine, whose mere voice was as balm to 
this man of many impulses, repeated to him, softly 
in the midnight silence, those noble lines in which 
Wordsworth has expressed, with the reserve and yet 
the strength of the great poet, the loftiest yearning 
of the purest hearts - 

* Enough, if something from our hand have power 
To live and move, and serve the future hour, 
And if, as towards the silent tomb we go, 
Through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent dower, 
We feel that we are greater than we know.' 

'He has divined it all/ said Robert, drawing a long 
breath when she stopped, which seemed to relax the 
fibres of the inner man, 'the fever and the fret of 
human thought, the sense of littleness, of impotence, 
of evanescence and he has soothed it all ! ' 

'Oh, not all, not all!' cried Catherine, her look 
kindling, and her rare passion breaking through ; 'how 
little in comparison ! ' 

For her thoughts were with Him of whom it was 
said, 'He needed not that any one should bear witness 
concerning man, for He knew what was in man. ' But 
Robert's only response was silence and a kind of quiv- 
ering sigh. 

'Robert!' she cried, pressing her cheek against his 
temple, 'tell me, my dear, dear husband, what it is 
troubles you. Something does I am certain 
certain ! ' 

[ 56 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

'Catherine wife beloved ! ' he said to her, after 
another pause, in a tone of strange tension she never 
forgot; 'generations of men and women have known 
what it is to be led spiritually into the desert, into that 
outer wilderness where even the Lord was " tempted." 
What am I that I should claim to escape it? And you 
cannot come through it with me, my darling no, 
not even you ! It is loneliness it is solitariness it- 
self - and he shuddered. 'But pray for me pray 
that He may be with me, and that at the end there 
may be light ! ' 

He pressed her to him convulsively, then gently 
released her. His solemn eyes, fixed upon her as she 
stood there beside him, seemed to forbid her to say 
a word more. She stooped ; she laid her lips to his ; it 
was a meeting of soul with soul ; then she went softly 
out, breaking the quiet of the house by a stifled sob 
as she passed upstairs. 

Oh! but at last she thought she understood him. 
She had not passed her girlhood, side by side with 
a man of delicate fibre, of melancholy and scrupulous 
temperament, and within hearing of all the natural 
interests of a deeply religious mind, religious bio- 
graphy, religious psychology, and within certain 
sharply defined limits religious speculation, with- 
out being brought face to face with the black possi- 
bilities of 'doubts' and 'difficulties' as barriers in the 
Christian path. Has not almost every Christian of 
illustrious excellence been tried and humbled by them? 
Catherine, looking back upon her own youth, could 
remember certain crises of religious melancholy, dur- 
ing which she had often dropped off to sleep at night 
[ 57 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

on a pillow wet with tears. They had passed away 
quickly, and for ever. But she went back to them now, 
straining her eyes through the darkness of her own 
past, recalling her father's days of spiritual depression, 
and the few difficult words she had sometimes heard 
from him as to those bitter times of religious dryness 
and hopelessness, by which God chastens from time 
to time His most faithful and heroic souls. A half- 
contempt awoke in her for the unclouded serenity 
and confidence of her own inner life. If her own spir- 
itual experience had gone deeper, she told herself with 
the strangest self -blame, she would have been able 
now to understand Robert better to help him more. 

She thought as she lay awake after those painful 
moments in the study, the tears welling up slowly in 
the darkness, of many things that had puzzled her 
in the past. She remembered the book she had seen 
on his table; her thoughts travelled over his months 
of intercourse with the squire; and the memory of 
Mr. Newcome's attitude towards the man whom he 
conceived to be his Lord's adversary, as contrasted 
with Robert's, filled her with a shrinking pain she 
dared not analyse. 

Still all through, her feeling towards her husband 
was in the main akin to that of the English civilian 
at home towards English soldiers abroad, suffering 
and dying that England may be great. She had shel- 
tered herself all her life from those deadly forces of 
unbelief which exist in English society, by a steady 
refusal to know what, however, any educated univers- 
ity man must perforce know. But such a course of 
action was impossible for Robert. He had been forced 
[ 58 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

into the open, into the full tide of the Lord's battle. 
The chances of that battle are many ; and the more 
courage the more risk of wounds and pain. But the 
great Captain knows the great Captain does not 
forget His own ! 

For never, never had she the smallest doubt as to 
the issue of this sudden crisis in her husband's con- 
sciousness, even when she came nearest to apprehend- 
ing its nature. As well might she doubt the return of 
daylight, as dream of any permanent eclipse descend- 
ing upon the faith which had shone through every 
detail of Robert's ardent impulsive life, with all its 
struggles, all its failings, all its beauty, since she had 
known him first. The dread did not even occur to 
her. In her agony of pity and reverence she thought 
of him as passing through a trial, which is specially 
the believer's trial the chastening by which God 
proves the soul He loves. Let her only love and trust 
in patience. 

So that day by day as Robert's depression still 
continued, Catherine surrounded him with the tender- 
est and wisest affection. Her quiet common sense 
made itself heard, forbidding her to make too much 
of the change in him, which might after all, she 
thought, be partly explained by the mere physical 
results of his long strain of body and mind during 
the Mile End epidemic. And for the rest she would 
not argue; she would not inquire. She only prayed 
that she might so lead the Christian life beside him, 
that the Lord's tenderness, the Lord's consolation, 
might shine upon him through her. It had never been 
her wont to speak to him much about his own influ- 
F 59 1 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ence, his own effect, in the parish. To the austerer 
Christian considerations of this kind are forbidden: 
'It is not I, but Christ that worketh in me/ But now, 
whenever she came across any striking trace of his 
power over the weak or the impure, the sick or the sad, 
she would in some way make it known to him, offer- 
ing it to him in her delicate tenderness, as though it 
were a gift that the Father had laid in her hand for 
him a token that the Master was still indeed with 
His servant, and that all was fundamentally well! 

And so much, perhaps, the contact with his wife's 
faith, the power of her love, wrought in Robert, that 
during these weeks and months he also never lost his 
own certainty of emergence from the shadow which 
had overtaken him. And, indeed, driven on from day 
to day as he was by an imperious intellectual thirst 
which would be satisfied, the religion of the heart, 
the imaginative emotional habit of years, that in- 
cessant drama which the soul enacts with the Divine 
Powers to which it feels itself committed, lived and 
persisted through it all. Feeling was untouched. The 
heart was still passionately on the side of all its old 
loves and adorations, still blindly trustful that in the 
end, by some compromise as yet unseen, they would 
be restored to it intact. 

Some time towards the end of July Robert was 
coming home from the Hall before lunch, tired and 
worn, as the morning always left him, and meditating 
some fresh sheets of the squire's proofs which had 
been in his hands that morning. On the road crossing 
that to the rectory he suddenly saw Reginald New- 
come, thinner and whiter than ever, striding along 
[ 60 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

as fast as cassock and cloak would let him, his eyes 
on the ground, and his wideawake drawn over them. 
He and Elsmere had scarcely met for months, and 
Robert had lately made up his mind that Newcome 
was distinctly less friendly, and wished to show it. 

Elsmere had touched his arm before Newcome had 
perceived any one near him. Then he drew back with 
a start. 

' Elsmere, you here ! I had an idea you were away 
for a holiday ! ' 

'Oh dear, no!' said Robert, smiling. 'I may get 
away in September, perhaps not till then/ 

'Mr. Wendover at home?' said the other, his eyes 
turning to the Hall, of which the chimneys were just 
visible from where they stood. 

'No, he is abroad/ 

'You and he have made friends, I understand/ said 
the other abruptly, his eagle look returning to Els- 
mere; 'I hear of you as always together/ 

'We have made friends, and we walk a great deal 
when tbe squire is here/ said Robert, meeting New- 
come's harshness of tone with a bright dignity. ' Mr. 
Wendover has even been doing something for us in the 
village. You should come and see the new Institute. 
The roof is on, and we shall open it in August or Sep- 
tember. The best building of the kind in the country 
by far, and Mr. Wendover 's gift/ 

'I suppose you use the library a great deal?' said 
Newcome, paying no attention to these remarks, and 
still eyeing his companion closely. 

'A great deal/ 

Robert had at that moment under his arm a Ger- 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

man treatise on the history of the Logos doctrine, 
which afterwards, looking back on the little scene, he 
thought it probable Newcome recognised. They turned 
towards the rectory together, Newcome still asking 
abrupt questions as to the squire, the length of time 
he was to be away, Elsmere 's work, parochial and 
literary, during the past six months, the numbers of 
his Sunday congregation, of his communicants, etc. 
Elsmere bore his catechism with perfect temper, 
though Newcome 's manner had in it a strange and 
almost judicial imperativeness. 

'Elsmere/ said his questioner presently, after a 
pause, ' I am going to have a retreat for priests at the 
Clergy House next month. Father H / mention- 
ing a famous High Churchman, 'will conduct it. You 
would do me a special favour ' - and suddenly the 
face softened, and shone with all its old magnetism 
on Elsmere 'if you would come. I believe you 
would find nothing to dislike in it, or in our rule, which 
is a most simple one/ 

Robert smiled, and laid his hand on the other's 
arm. 

'No, Newcome, no; I am in no mood for H .' 

The High Churchman looked at him with a quick 
and painful anxiety visible in the stern eyes. 

'Will you tell me what that means?' 

'It means/ said Robert, clasping his hands tightly 
behind him, his pace slacking a little to meet that of 
Newcome 'it means that if you will give me your 
prayers, Newcome, your companionship sometimes, 
your pity always, I will thank you from the bottom 
of my heart. But I am in a state just now when I 
[ 62 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

must fight my battles for myself, and in God's sight 
only!' 

It was the first burst of confidence which had passed 
his lips to any one but Catherine. 

Newcome stood still, a tremor of strong emotion 
running through the emaciated face. 

'You are in trouble, Elsmere; I felt it, I knew it, 
when I first saw you ! ' 

'Yes, I am in trouble/ said Robert quietly. 

'Opinions?' 

' Opinions, I suppose or facts, ' said Robert, his 
arms dropping wearily beside him. 'Have you ever 
known what it is to be troubled in mind, I wonder, 
Newcome?' 

And he looked at his companion with a sudden 
pitiful curiosity. 

A kind of flash passed over Mr. Newcome 's face. 

' Have I ever known ? ' he repeated vaguely, and then 
he drew his thin hand, the hand of the ascetic and the 
mystic, hastily across his eyes, and was silent his 
lips moving, his gaze on the ground, his whole aspect 
that of a man wrought out of himself by a sudden 
passion of memory. 

Robert watched him with surprise, and was just 
speaking, when Mr. Newcome looked up, every drawn 
attenuated feature working painfully. 

'Did you never ask yourself, Elsmere,' he said 
slowly, 'what it was drove me from the bar and jour- 
nalism to the East End? Do you think I don't know,' 
and his voice rose, his eyes flamed, 'what black devil 
it is that is gnawing at your heart now? Why, man, 
I have been through darker gulfs of hell than you 
[ 63 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

have ever sounded ! Many a night I have felt myself 
mad mad of doubt a castaway on a shoreless sea ; 
doubting not only God or Christ, but myself, the soul, 
the very existence of good. I found only one way out 
of it, and you will find only one way/ 

The lithe hand caught Robert's arm impetuously 
the voice with its accent of fierce conviction was 
at his ear. 

'Trample on yourself! Pray down the demon, fast, 
scourge, kill the body, that the soul may live ! What 
are we, miserable worms, that we should defy the 
Most High, that we should set our wretched faculties 
against His Omnipotence? Submit submit hum- 
ble yourself, my brother! Fling away the freedom 
which is your ruin. There is no freedom for man. 
Either a slave to Christ, or a slave to his own lusts - 
there is no other choice. Go away; exchange your 
work here for a time for work in London. You have 
too much leisure here : Satan has too much opportun- 
ity. I foresaw it I foresaw it when you and I first 
met. I felt I had a message for you, and here I deliver 
it. In the Lord's name, I bid you fly; I bid you yield 
in time. Better to be the Lord's captive than the 
Lord's betrayer!' 

The wasted form was drawn up to its full height, 
the arm was outstretched, the long cloak fell back from 
it in long folds voice and eye were majesty itself. 
Robert had a tremor of responsive passion. How easy 
it sounded, how tempting, to cut the knot, to muti- 
late and starve the rebellious intellect which would 
assert itself against the soul's purest instincts! New- 
come had done it why not he? 
[ 64 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

And then, suddenly, as he stood gazing at his com- 
panion, the spring sun, and murmur all about them, 
another face, another life, another message, flashed 
on his inmost sense the face and life of Henry Grey. 
Words torn from their context, but full for him of 
intensest meaning, passed rapidly through his mind : 
'God is not wisely trusted when declared unintelligible.' 
'Such honour rooted in dishonour stands; such faith 
unfaithful makes us falsely true.' 'God is for ever rea- 
son: and His communication, His revelation, is reason.' 

He turned away with a slight sad shake of the head. 
The spell was broken. Mr. Newcome's arm dropped, 
and he moved sombrely on beside Robert the hand, 
which held a little book of Hours against his cloak, 
trembling slightly. 

At the rectory gate he stopped. 

'Good-bye I must go home/ 

'You won't come in? No, no, Newcome; be- 
lieve me, I am no rash careless egotist, risking wan- 
tonly the most precious things in life ! But the call is 
on me, and I must follow it. All life is God's, and all 
thought not only a fraction of it. He cannot let 
me wander very far ! ' 

But the cold fingers he held so warmly dropped 
from his, and Newcome turned away. 

A week afterwards, or thereabouts, Robert had in 
some sense followed Newcome's counsel. Admon- 
ished perhaps by sheer physical weakness, as much 
as by anything else, he had for the moment laid down 
his arms ; he had yielded to an invading feebleness of 
the will, which refused, as it were, to carry on the 
struggle any longer, at such a life-destroying pitch 
[ 65 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

of intensity. The intellectual oppression of itself 
brought about wild reaction and recoil, and a pas- 
sionate appeal to that inward witness of the soul which 
holds its own long after the reason has practically 
ceased to struggle. 

It came about in this way. One morning he stood 
reading in the window of the library the last of the 
squire's letters. It contained a short but masterly 
analysis of the mental habits and idiosyncrasies of 
St. Paul, a propos of St. Paul's witness to the Resur- 
rection. Every now and then, as Elsmere turned the 
pages, the orthodox protest would assert itself, the 
orthodox arguments make themselves felt as though 
in mechanical involuntary protest. But their force 
and vitality was gone. Between the Paul of Anglican 
theology and the fiery fallible man of genius so 
weak logically, so strong in poetry, in rhetoric, in 
moral passion, whose portrait has been drawn for us 
by a free and temperate criticism the rector knew, 
in a sort of dull way, that his choice was made. The 
one picture carried reason and imagination with it; 
the other contented neither. 

But as he put down the letter something seemed to 
snap within him. Some chord of physical endurance 
gave way. For five months he had been living intel- 
lectually at a speed no man maintains with impunity, 
and this letter of the squire's, with its imperious de- 
mands upon the tired irritable brain, was the last 
straw. 

He sank down on the oriel seat, the letter dropping 
from his hands. Outside, the little garden, now a 
mass of red and pink roses, the hill and the distant 
[ 66 ] 



THE SQUIRE 

stretches of park were wrapped in a thick sultry mist, 
through which a dim far-off sunlight struggled on to 
the library floor, and lay in ghostly patches on the 
polished boards and lower ranges of books. 

The simplest religious thoughts began to flow over 
him the simplest childish words of prayer were on 
his lips. He felt himself delivered, he knew not how 
or why. 

He rose deliberately, laid the squire's letter among 
his other papers, and tied them up carefully ; then he 
took up the books which lay piled on the squire's 
writing-table: all those volumes of German, French, 
and English criticism, liberal or apologetic, which he 
had been accumulating round him day by day with 
a feverish toilsome impartiality, and began rapidly 
and methodically to put them back in their places 
on the shelves. 

'I have done too much thinking, too much reading/ 
he was saying to himself as he went through his task. 
'Now let it be the turn of something else!' 

And still as he handled the books, it was as though 
Catherine's figure glided backwards and forwards 
beside him, across the smooth floor, as though her 
hand were on his arm, her eyes shining into his. Ah 
he knew well what it was had made the sharpest 
sting of this wrestle through which he had been pass- 
ing! It was not merely religious dread , religious shame ; 
that terror of disloyalty to the Divine Images which 
has filled the soul's inmost shrine since its first entry 
into consciousness, such as every good man feels in 
a like strait. This had been strong indeed ; but men 
are men, and love is love ! Aye, it was to the dark 
[ 67 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

certainty of Catherine's misery that every advance in 
knowledge and intellectual power had brought him 
nearer. It was from that certainty that he now, and 
for the last time, recoiled. It was too much. It could 
not be borne. 

He walked home, counting up the engagements of 
the next few weeks the school-treat, two club field- 
days, a sermon in the county town, the probable 
opening of the new Workmen's Institute, and so on. 
Oh! to be through them all and away, away amid 
Alpine scents and silences. He stood a moment be- 
side the grey slowly-moving river, half -hidden beneath 
the rank flower-growth, the tansy and willow-herb, 
the luxuriant elder and trailing brambles of its August 
banks, and thought with hungry passion of the clean- 
swept Alpine pasture, the fir-woods, and the tame- 
less mountain streams. In three weeks or less he and 
Catherine should be climbing the Jaman or the Dent 
du Midi. And till then he would want all his time for 
men and women. Books should hold him no more. 

Catherine only put her arms round his neck in si- 
lence when he told her. The relief was too great for 
words. He, too, held her close, saying nothing. But 
that night, for the first time for weeks, Elsmere's 
wife slept in peace and woke without dread of the 
day before her. 



BOOK IV 

CRISIS 



CHAPTER XXVI 

THE next fortnight was a time of truce. Elsmere 
neither read nor reasoned. He spent his days in the 
school, in the village, pottering about the Mile End 
cottages, or the new Institute sometimes fishing, 
sometimes passing long summer hours on the com- 
mons with his club boys, hunting the ponds for cad- 
dises, newts, and water-beetles, peering into the furze- 
bushes for second broods, or watching the sand-mar- 
tins in the gravel-pits, and trudging home at night 
in the midst of an escort of enthusiasts, all of them 
with pockets as full and miry as his own, to deposit 
the treasures of the day in the club-room. Once more 
the rector, though physically perhaps less ardent than 
of yore, was the life of the party, and a certain awe 
and strangeness which had developed in his boys' 
minds towards him, during the last few weeks, passed 
away. 

It was curious that in these days he would neither 
sit nor walk alone if he could help it. Catherine or 
a stray parishioner was almost always with him. All 
the while, vaguely, in the depths of consciousness, 
there was the knowledge that behind this piece of 
quiet water on which his life was now sailing, there 
lay storm and darkness, and that in front loomed fresh 
possibilities of tempest. He knew, in a way, that it 
was a treacherous peace which had overtaken him. 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

And yet it was peace. The pressure exerted by the 
will had temporarily given way, and the deepest forces 
of the man's being had reasserted themselves. He 
could feel and love and pray again; and Catherine, 
seeing the old glow in the eyes, the old spring in the 
step, made the whole of life one thank-offering. 

On the evening following that moment of reaction 
in the Murewell library, Robert had written to the 
squire. His letter had been practically a withdrawal 
from the correspondence. 

'I find/ he wrote, 'that I have been spending too 
much time and energy lately on these critical matters. 
It seems to me that my work as a clergyman has 
suffered. Nor can I deny that your book and your 
letters have been to me a source of great trouble cf 
mind. 

'My heart is where it was, but my head is often 
confused. Let controversy rest a while. My wife says 
I want a holiday; I think so myself, and we are off 
in three weeks ; not, however, I hope, before we have 
welcomed you home again, and got you to open the 
new Institute, which is already dazzling the eyes of 
the village by its size and splendour, and the white 
paint that Harris the builder has been lavishing 
upon it.' 

Ten days later, rather earlier than was expected, the 
squire and Mrs. Darcy were at home again. Robert 
re-entered the great house the morning after their ar- 
rival with a strange reluctance. Its glow and magni- 
ficence, the warm perfumed air of the hall, brought 
back a sense of old oppressions, and he walked 
down the passage to the library with a sinking heart. 



CRISIS 

There he found the squire busy as usual with one of 
those fresh cargoes of books which always accom- 
panied him on any homeward journey. He was 
more brown, more wrinkled, more shrunken; more 
full of force, of harsh epigram, of grim anecdote than 
ever. Robert sat on the edge of the table laughing 
over his stories of French Orientalists, or Roman car- 
dinals, or modern Greek professors, enjoying the 
impartial sarcasm which one of the greatest of savants 
was always ready to pour out upon his brethren of 
the craft. 

The squire, however, was never genial for a moment 
during the interview. He did not mention his book 
nor Elsmere's letter. But Elsmere suspected in him 
a good deal of suppressed irritability; and, as after 
a while he abruptly ceased to talk, the visit grew 
difficult. 

The rector walked home feeling restless and de- 
pressed. The mind had begun to work again. It was 
only by a great effort that he could turn his thoughts 
from the squire, and all that the squire had meant to 
him during the past year, and so woo back to himself 
'the shy bird Peace/ 

Mr. Wendover watched the door close behind him, 
and then went back to his work with a gesture of 
impatience. 

' Once a priest, always a priest. What a fool I was 
to forget it! You think you make an impression on 
the mystic, and at the bottom there is always some- 
thing which defies you and common sense. "Two 
and two do not, and shall not, make four,"' he said 
to himself, in a mincing voice of angry sarcasm. ' " It 
[ 73 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

would give me too much pain that they should. " Well, 
and so I suppose what might have been a rational 
friendship will go by the board like everything else. 
What can make the man shilly-shally in this way? 
He is convinced already, as he knows those later 
letters were conclusive! His living, perhaps, and his 
work! Not for the money's sake there never was 
a more incredibly disinterested person born. But his 
work? Well, who is to hinder his work? Will he be 
the first parson in the Church of England who looks 
after the poor and holds his tongue? If you can't 
speak your mind, it is something at any rate to pos- 
sess one nine tenths of the clergy being without 
the appendage. But Elsmere pshaw ! he will go 
muddling on to the end of the chapter!' 

The squire, indeed, was like a hunter whose prey 
escapes him at the very moment of capture, and there 
grew on him a mocking aggressive mood which Els- 
mere often found hard to bear. 

One natural symptom of it was his renewed churlish- 
ness as to all local matters. Elsmere one afternoon 
spent an hour in trying to persuade him to open the 
new Institute. 

'What on earth do you want me for?' inquired 
Mr. Wendover, standing before the fire in the library, 
the Medusa head peering over his shoulder. 'You 
know perfectly well that all the gentry about here - 
I suppose you will have some of them regard me 
as an old reprobate, and the poor people, I imagine, 
as a kind of ogre. To me it does n't matter a two- 
penny damn I apologise ; it was the Duke of Well- 
ington's favourite standard of value but I can't see 



CRISIS 

what good it can do either you or the village, under 
the circumstances, that I should stand on my head for 
the popular edification. ' 

Elsmere, however, merely stood his ground, argu- 
ing and bantering, till the squire grudgingly gave way. 
This time, after he departed, Mr. Wendover, instead 
of going to his work, still stood gloomily ruminating 
in front of the fire. His frowning eyes wandered round 
the great room before him. For the first time he was 
conscious that now, as soon as the charm of Elsmere 's 
presence was withdrawn, his working hours were 
doubly solitary ; that his loneliness weighed upon him 
more ; and that it mattered to him appreciably whether 
that young man went or stayed. The stirring of a 
new sensation, however, unparalleled since the 
brief days when even Roger Wendover had his friends 
and his attractions like other men, was soon lost 
in renewed chafing at Elsmere 's absurdities. The 
squire had been at first perfectly content so he 
told himself to limit the field of their intercourse, 
and would have been content to go on doing so. But 
Elsmere himself had invited freedom of speech be- 
tween them. 

'I would have given him my best/ Mr. Wendover 
reflected impatiently. 'I could have handed on to 
him all I shall never use, and he might use, admirably. 
And now we might as well be on the terms we were 
to begin with for all the good I get out of him, or he 
out of me. Clearly nothing but cowardice! He can- 
not face the intellectual change, and he must, I sup- 
pose, dread lest it should affect his work. Good God, 
what nonsense ! As if any one inquired what an Eng- 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

lish parson believed nowadays, so long as he performs 
all the usual antics decently ! ' 

And, meanwhile, it never occurred to the squire 
that Elsmere had a wife, and. a pious one. Catherine 
had been dropped out of his calculation as to Elsmere 's 
future, at a very early stage. 

The following afternoon Robert, coming home from 
a round, found Catherine out, and a note awaiting him 
from the Hall. 

'Can you and Mrs. Elsmere come in to tea?' wrote 
the squire. 'Madame de Netteville is here, and one or 
two others/ 

Robert grumbled a good deal, looked for Catherine 
to devise an excuse for him, could not find her, and at 
last reluctantly set out again alone. 

He was tired and his mood was heavy. As he trudged 
through the park he never once noticed the soft sun- 
flooded distance, the shining loops of the river, the 
feeding deer, or any of those natural witcheries to 
which eye and sense were generally so responsive. The 
labourers going home, the children with aprons full 
of crab-apples, and lips dyed by the first blackberries 
- who passed him, got but an absent smile or salute 
from the rector. The interval of exaltation and recoil 
was over. The ship of the mind was once more labour- 
ing in alien and dreary seas. 

He roused himself to remember that he had been 
curious to see Madame de Netteville. She was an old 
friend of the squire's, the holder of a London salon, 
much more exquisite and select than anything Lady 
Charlotte could show. 

[ 76 ] 



CRISIS 

'She had the same thing in Paris before the war/ 
the squire explained. 'Renan gave me a card to her. 
An extraordinary woman. No particular originality; 
but one of the best persons "to consult about ideas," 
like Joubert's Madame de Beaumont, I ever saw. 
Receptiveness itself. A beauty, too, or was one, and 
a bit of a sphinx, which adds to the attraction. Mys- 
tery becomes a woman vastly. One suspects her of 
adventures just enough to find her society doubly 
piquant/ 

Vincent directed him to the upper terrace, whither 
tea had been taken. This terrace, which was one of 
the features of Murewell, occupied the top of the yew- 
clothed hill on which the library looked out. Evelyn 
himself had planned it. Along its upper side ran one 
of the most beautiful of old walls, broken by niches 
and statues, tapestried with roses and honeysuckle, 
and opening in the centre to reveal Evelyn's darling 
conceit of all a semicircular space, holding a foun- 
tain, and leading to a grotto. The grotto had been 
scooped out of the hill ; it was peopled with dim figures 
of fauns and nymphs who showed white amid its moist 
greenery ; and in front a marble Silence drooped over 
the fountain, which held gold and silver fish in a singu- 
larly clear water. Outside ran the long stretch of level 
turf, edged with a jewelled rim of flowers ; and as the 
hill fell steeply underneath, the terrace was like a high 
green platform raised into air, in order that a Wend- 
over might see his domain, which from thence lay for 
miles spread out before him. 

Here, beside the fountain, were gathered the squire, 
Mrs. Darcy, Madame de Netteville, and two unknown 
[ 77 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

men. One of them was introduced to Elsmere as Mr. 
Spooner, and recognised by him as a Fellow of the 
Royal Society, a famous mathematician, sceptic, bon 
vivanty and sayer of good things. The other was a 
young Liberal Catholic, the author of a remarkable 
collection of essays on mediaeval subjects in which the 
squire, treating the man's opinions of course as of no 
account, had instantly recognised the note of the true 
scholar. A pale, small, hectic creature, possessed of 
that restless energy of mind which often goes with the 
heightened temperature of consumption. 

Robert took a seat by Madame de Netteville, whose 
appearance was picturesqueness itself. Her dress, a 
skilful mixture of black and creamy yellow, lay about 
her in folds, as soft, as carelessly effective as her man- 
ner. Her plumed hat shadowed a face which was no 
longer young in such a way as to hide all the lines pos- 
sible ; while the half-light brought admirably out the 
rich dark smoothness of the tints, the black lustre of 
the eyes. A delicate blue- veined hand lay upon her 
knee, and Robert was conscious after ten minutes or 
so that all her movements, which seemed at first merely 
slow and languid, were in reality singularly full of 
decision and purpose. She was not easy to talk to on 
a first acquaintance. Robert felt that she was study- 
ing him, and was not so much at his ease as usual, 
partly owing to fatigue and mental worry. 

She asked him little abrupt questions about the 
neighbourhood, his parish, his work, in a soft tone 
which had, however, a distinct aloofness, even hauteur. 
His answers, on the other hand, were often a trifle 
reckless and offhand. He was in a mood to be impa- 

[ ] 



CRISIS 

tient with a mondaine's languid inquiries into clerical 
work, and it seemed to him the squire's description 
had been overdone. 

'So you try to civilise your peasants/ she said at 
last. ' Does it succeed is it worth while? 7 

'That depends upon your general ideas of what is 
worth while/ he answered smiling. 

' Oh, everything is worth while that passes the time/ 
she said hurriedly. ' The clergy of the old regime went 
through life half asleep. That was their way of pass- 
ing it. Your way, being a modern, is to bustle and try 
experiments/ 

Her eyes, half-closed but none the less provocative, 
ran over Elsmere's keen face and pliant frame. An 
atmosphere of intellectual and social assumption en- 
wrapped her, which annoyed Robert in much the same 
way as Langham's philosophical airs were wont to do. 
He was drawn without knowing it into a match of wits 
wherein his strokes, if they lacked the finish and sub- 
tlety of hers, showed certainly no lack of sharpness or 
mental resource. Madame de Netteville's tone insens- 
ibly changed, her manner quickened, her great eyes 
gradually unclosed. 

Suddenly, as they were in the middle of a skirmish 
as to the reality of influence, Madame de Netteville 
paradoxically maintaining that no human being had 
ever really converted, transformed, or convinced an- 
other, the voice of young Wishart, shrill and tremu- 
lous, rose above the general level of talk. 

'I am quite ready; I am not the least afraid of a 
definition. Theology is organised knowledge in the 
field of religion, a science like any other science/ 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Certainly, my dear sir, certainly/ said Mr. Spooner, 
leaning forward with his hands round his knees, and 
speaking with the most elegant and good-humoured 
sang-froid imaginable, 'the -science of the world's 
ghosts! I cannot imagine any more fascinating/ 

'Well/ said Madame de Netteville to Robert, with 
a deep breath, 'that was a remark to have hurled at 
you all at once out of doors on a summer's afternoon ! 
Oh, Mr. Spooner!' she said, raising her voice, 'don't 
play the heretic here ! There is no fun in it ; there are 
too many with you.' 

'I did not begin it, my dear madam, and your re- 
proach is unjust. On one side of me Archbishop Man- 
ning's fidus Achates,' and the speaker took off his large 
straw hat and gracefully waved it first to the right, 
then to the left. ' On the other, the rector of the par- 
ish. "Cannon to right of me, cannon to left of me." 
I submit my courage is unimpeachable ! ' 

He spoke with a smiling courtesy as excessive as 
his silky moustache, his long straw-coloured beard, 
and his Panama hat. Madame de Netteville surveyed 
him with cool critical eyes. Robert smiled slightly, 
acknowledged the bow, but did not speak. 

Mr. Wishart evidently took no heed of anything but 
his own thoughts. He sat bolt upright with shining 
excited eyes. 

'Ah, I remember that article of yours in the Fort- 
nightly ! How you sceptics miss the point ! ' 

And out came a stream of argument and denuncia- 
tion which had probably lain lava-hot at the heart of 
the young convert for years, waiting for such a mo- 
ment as this, when he had before him at close quar- 
[ 80 ] 



CRISIS 

ters two of the most famous antagonists of his faith. 
The outburst was striking, but certainly unpardonably 
ill-timed. Madame de Netteville retreated into her- 
self with a shrug. Robert, in whom a sore nerve had 
been set jarring, did his utmost to begin his talk with 
her again. 

In vain ! for the squire struck in. He had been 
sitting huddled together his cynical eyes wander- 
ing from Wishart to Elsmere when suddenly some 
extravagant remark of the young Catholic, and Rob- 
ert's effort to edge away from the conversation, caught 
his attention at the same moment. His face hardened, 
and in his nasal voice he dealt a swift epigram at Mr. 
Wishart, which for the moment left the young dis- 
putant floundering. 

But only for the moment. In another minute or two 
the argument, begun so casually, had developed into 
a serious trial of strength, in which the squire and 
young Wishart took the chief parts, while Mr. Spooner 
threw in a laugh and a sarcasm here and there. 

And as long as Mr. Wendover talked, Madame de 
Netteville listened. Robert's restless repulsion to the 
whole incident, his passionate wish to escape from 
these phrases and illustrations and turns of argument, 
which were all so wearisomely stale and familiar to 
him, found no support in her. Mrs. Darcy dared not 
second his attempts at chat, for Mr. Wendover, on the 
rare occasions when he held forth, was accustomed 
to be listened to ; and Elsmere was of too sensitive 
a social fibre to break up the party by an abrupt exit, 
which could only have been interpreted in one way. 

So he stayed, and perforce listened, but in com- 
[ 81 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

plete silence. None of Mr. Wendover's side-hits 
touched him. Only as the talk went on, the rector in 
the background got paler and paler ; his eyes, as they 
passed from the mobile face of the Catholic convert, 
already, for those who knew, marked with the signs 
of death, to the bronzed visage of the squire, grew 
duller more instinct with a slowly-dawning despair. 

Half an hour later he was once more on the road 
leading to the park gate. He had a vague memory 
that at parting the squire had shown him the cordial- 
ity of one suddenly anxious to apologise by manner, 
if not by word. Otherwise everything was forgotten. 
He was only anxious, half-dazed as he was, to make 
out wherein lay the vital difference between his pre- 
sent self and the Elsmere who had passed along that 
road an hour before. 

He had heard a conversation on religious topics, 
wherein nothing was new to him, nothing affected him 
intellectually at all. What was there in that to break 
the spring of life like this? He stood still, heavily try- 
ing to understand himself. 

Then gradually it became clear to him. A month 
ago, every word of that hectic young pleader for Christ 
and the Christian certainties would have roused in 
him a leaping passionate sympathy the heart's 
yearning assent, even when the intellect was most 
perplexed. Now that inmost strand had given way. 
Suddenly the disintegrating force he had been so piti- 
fully, so blindly, holding at bay had penetrated once 
for all into the sanctuary! What had happened to 
him had been the first real failure of feeling, the first 



Wendover Park 



CRISIS 

treachery of the heart. Wishart's hopes and hatreds, 
and sublime defiances of man's petty faculties, had 
aroused in him no echo, no response. His soul had been 
dead within him. 

As he gained the shelter of the wooded lane beyond 
the gate it seemed to Robert that he was going through 
once more that old fierce temptation of Bunyan's, - 

'For after the Lord had in this manner thus gra- 
ciously delivered me, and had set me down so sweetly 
in the faith of His Holy Gospel, and had given me such 
strong consolation and blessed evidence from heaven, 
touching my interest in His love through Christ, the 
tempter came upon me again, and that with a more 
grievous and dreadful temptation than before. And 
that was, "To sell and part with this most blessed 
Christ ; to exchange Him for the things of life, for any- 
thing!" The temptation lay upon me for the space of 
a year, and did follow me so continually that I was not 
rid of it one day in a month ; no, not sometimes one 
hour in many days together, for it did always, in al- 
most whatever I thought, intermix itself therewith, 
in such sort that I could neither eat my food, stoop 
for a pin, chop a stick, or cast mine eyes to look on 
this or that, but still the temptation would come : " Sell 
Christ for this, or sell Christ for that, sell Him, sell 
Him!'" 

Was this what lay before the minister of God now 
in this selva oscura of. life? The selling of the Master, 
of 'the love so sweet, the unction spiritual/ for an in- 
tellectual satisfaction, the ravaging of all the fair 
places of the heart by an intellectual need ! 

And still through all the despair, all the revolt, all 
[ 83 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

the pain, which made the summer air a darkness, and 
closed every sense in him to the evening beauty, he 
felt the irresistible march and pressure of the new 
instincts, the new forces, which life and thought had 
been calling into being. The words of St. Augustine 
which he had read to Catherine, taken in a strange new 
sense, came back to him ' Commend to the keeping 
of the Truth whatever the Truth hath given thee, and 
thou shalt lose nothing ! ' 

Was it the summons of Truth which was rending 
the whole nature in this way? 

Robert stood still, and with his hands locked behind 
him, and his face turned like the face of a blind man 
towards a world of which it saw nothing, went through 
a desperate catechism of himself. 

'Do I believe in God? Surely, surely! "Though He 
slay me yet will I trust in Him ! " Do I believe in Christ ? 
Yes, in the teacher, the martyr, the symbol to us 
Westerns of all things heavenly and abiding, the im- 
age and pledge of the invisible life of the spirit, - 
with all my soul and all my mind ! 

'But in the Man-God, the Word from Eternity, - 
in a wonder-working Christ, in a risen and ascended 
Jesus, in the living Intercessor and Mediator for the 
lives of His doomed brethren?' 

He waited, conscious that it was the crisis of his 
history, and there rose in him, as though articulated 
one by one by an audible voice, words of irrevocable 
meaning. 

' Every human soul, in which the voice of God makes 
itself felt, enjoys, equally with Jesus of Nazareth, the 
divine sonship, and "miracles do not happen!" 
[ 84 ] 



CRISIS 

It was done. He felt for the moment as Bunyan did 
after his lesser defeat. 

' Now was the battle won, and down fell I as a bird 
that is shot from the top of a tree into great guilt and 
fearful despair. Thus getting out of my bed I went 
moping in the field ; but God knows with as heavy 
an heart as mortal man I think could bear, where 
for the space of two hours I was like a man bereft 
of life/ 

All these years of happy spiritual certainty, of re- 
joicing oneness with Christ, to end in this wreck and 
loss ! Was not this indeed 'il gran rifiuto' - - the great- 
est of which human daring is capable? The lane dark- 
ened round him. Not a soul was in sight. The only 
sounds were the sounds of a gently-breathing Nature, 
sounds of birds and swaying branches and intermit- 
tent gusts of air rustling through the gorse and the 
drifts of last year's leaves in the wood beside him. 
He moved mechanically onward, and presently, after 
the first flutter of desolate terror had passed away, 
with a new inrushing sense which seemed to him a 
sense of liberty of infinite expansion. 

Suddenly the trees before him thinned, the ground 
sloped away, and there to the left on the westernmost 
edge of the hill lay the square stone rectory, its win- 
dows open to the evening coolness, a white flutter of 
pigeons round the dovecote on the side lawn, the gold 
of the August wheat in the great cornfield showing 
against the heavy girdle of oak-wood. 

Robert stood gazing at it the home consecrated 
by love, by effort, by faith. The high alternations of 
intellectual and spiritual debate, the strange emerging 
[ 85 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

sense of deliverance, gave way to a most bitter human 
pang of misery. 
' God ! My wife my work ! ' 

. . . There was a sound of a voice calling Cath- 
erine's voice calling for him. He leant against the gate 
of the wood-path, struggling sternly with himself. 
This was no simple matter of his own intellectual con- 
sistency or happiness. Another's whole life was con- 
cerned. Any precipitate speech, or hasty action, would 
be a crime. A man is bound above all things to protect 
those who depend on him from his own immature or 
revocable impulses. Not a word yet, till this sense of 
convulsion and upheaval had passed away, and the 
mind was once more its own master. 

He opened the gate and went towards her. She was 
strolling along the path looking out for him, one deli- 
cate hand gathering up her long evening dress that 
very same black brocade she had worn in the old days 
at Burwood the other playing with their Dandie 
Dinmont puppy who was leaping beside her. As she 
caught sight of him, there was the flashing smile, the 
hurrying step. And he felt he could but just drag him- 
self to meet her. 

' Robert, how long you have been ! I thought you 
must have stayed to dinner after all ! And how tired 
you seem ! ' 

'I had a long walk/ he said, catching her hand, as 
it slipped itself under his arm, and clinging to it as 
though to a support. 'And I am tired. There is no use 
whatever in denying it.' 

His voice was light, but if it had not been so dark 
[ 86 ] 



CRISISs 

\ 

she must have been startled by God i ce - As they went 
on towards the house, however/I * scolding him for 
over-walking, he won his battle with himself. He went 
through the evening so that even Catherine's jealous 
eyes saw nothing but extra fatigue. In the most 
desperate straits of life love is still the fountain of all 
endurance, and if ever a man loved it was Robert 
Elsmere. 

But that night, as he lay sleepless in their quiet 
room, with the window open to the stars and to the 
rising gusts of wind, which blew the petals of the clus- 
ter-rose outside in drifts of 'fair weather snow' on to 
the window-sill, he went through an agony which no 
words can adequately describe. 

He must, of course, give up his living and his orders. 
His standards and judgements had always been simple 
and plain in these respects. In other men it might be 
right and possible that they should live on in the min- 
istry of the Church, doing the humane and charitable 
work of the Church, while refusing assent to the intel- 
lectual and dogmatic framework on which the Church 
system rests ; but for himself it would be neither right 
nor wrong, but simply impossible. He did not argue 
or reason about it. There was a favourite axiom of 
Mr. Grey's which had become part of his pupil's spir- 
itual endowment, and which was perpetually present 
to him at this crisis of his life, in the spirit, if not in the 
letter 'Conviction is the Conscience of the Mind.' 
And with this intellectual conscience he was no more 
capable of trifling than with the moral conscience. 

The night passed away. How the rare intermittent 
sounds impressed themselves upon him ! the stir 
I 87 ] 



R( BEE RT ELSMERE 

of the child's wa, e g a >oon after midnight in the room 
overhead ; the <2\, - _ the owls in the oak-wood ; the 
purring of the night- jars on the common ; the morning 
chatter of the swallows round the eaves. 

With the first invasion of the dawn Robert raised 
himself and looked at Catherine. She was sleeping 
with that light sound sleep which belongs to health 
of body and mind, one hand under her face, the other 
stretched out in soft relaxation beside her. Her hus- 
band hung over her in a bewilderment of feeling. Be- 
fore him passed all sorts of incoherent pictures of the 
future ; the mind was caught by all manner of incon- 
gruous details in that saddest uprooting which lay 
before him. How her sleep, her ignorance, reproached 
him ! He thought of the wreck of all her pure ambi- 
tions for him, for their common work, for the peo- 
ple she had come to love ; the ruin of her life of charity 
and tender usefulness, the darkening of all her hopes, 
the shaking of all her trust. Two years of devotion, of 
exquisite self-surrender, had brought her to this! It 
was for this he had lured her from the shelter of her 
hills, for this she had opened to him all her sweet stores 
of faith, all the deepest springs of her womanhood. 
Oh, how she must suffer! The thought of it and his 
own helplessness wrung his heart. 

Oh, could he keep her love through it all? There 
was an unspeakable dread mingled with his grief - 
his remorse. It had been there for months. In her 
eyes would not only pain but sin divide them? Could 
he possibly prevent her whole relation to him from 
altering and dwindling? 

It was to be the problem of his remaining life. With 
[ 88 ] 



CRISIS 

a great cry of the soul to that God it yearned and felt 
for through all the darkness and ruin which encom- 
passed it, he laid his hand on hers with the timidest 
passing touch. 

' Catherine, I will make amends ! My wife, I will 
make amends ! ' 



CHAPTER XXVII 

THE next morning Catherine, finding that Robert 
still slept on after their usual waking time, and re- 
membering his exhaustion of the night before, left 
him softly, and kept the house quiet that he might 
not be disturbed. She was in charge of the now tod- 
dling Mary in the dining-room when the door opened 
and Robert appeared. 

At sight of him she sprang up with a half -cry ; the 
face seemed to have lost all its fresh colour, its look 
of sun and air; the eyes were sunk; the lips and chin 
lined and drawn. It was like a face from which the 
youth had suddenly been struck out. 

'Robert!' but her question died on her lips. 

'A bad night, darling, and a bad headache,' he 
said, groping his way, as it seemed to her, to the 
table, his hand leaning on her arm. 'Give me some 
breakfast/ 

She restrained herself at once, put him into an 
armchair by the window, and cared for him in her 
tender noiseless way. But she had grown almost as 
pale as he, and her heart was like lead. 

'Will you send me off for the day to Thurston 
ponds?' he said presently, trying to smile with lips 
so stiff and nerveless that the will had small control 
over them. 

'Can you walk so far? You did overdo it yesterday, 
you know. You have never got over Mile End, Robert.' 
[ 90 ] 



CRISIS 

But her voice had a note in it which in his weak- 
ness he could hardly bear. He thirsted to be alone 
again, to be able to think over quietly what was best 
for her for them both. There must be a next step, 
and in her neighbourhood he was too feeble, too tor- 
tured, to decide upon it. 

'No more, dear no more/ he said impatiently, 
as she tried to feed him; then he added as he rose: 
'Don't make arrangements for our going next week, 
Catherine; it can't be so soon/ 

Catherine looked at him with eyes of utter dismay. 
The sustaining hope of all these difficult weeks, which 
had slipped with such terrible unexpectedness into 
their happy life, was swept away from her. 

'Robert, you ought to go/ 

' I have too many things to arrange/ he said sharply, 
almost irritably. Then his tone changed : ' Don't urge 
it, Catherine/ 

His eyes in their weariness seemed to entreat her 
not to argue. She stooped and kissed him, her lips 
trembling. 

'When do you want to go to Thurston?' 

'As soon as possible. Can you find me my fishing- 
basket, and get me some sandwiches? I shall only 
lounge there and take it easy/ 

She did everything for him that wifely hands could 
do. Then when his fishing-basket was strapped on, 
and his lunch was slipped into the capacious pocket 
of the well-worn shooting-coat, she threw her arms 
round him. 

'Robert, you will come away soon.' 

He roused himself and kissed her. 
[ 91 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'I will/ he said simply, withdrawing, however, from 
her grasp, as though he could not bear those close 
pleading eyes. ' Good-bye ! I shall be back some time 
in the afternoon/ 

From her post beside the study window she watched 
him take the short cut across the cornfield. She was 
miserable, and all at sea. A week ago he had been so 
like himself again, and now ! Never had she seen 
him in anything like this state of physical and mental 
collapse. 

'Oh, Robert/ she cried under her breath, with 
an abandonment like a child's, strong soul that she 
was, 'why won't you tell me, dear? Why won't 
you let me share? I might help you through 
I might/ 

She supposed he must be again in trouble of mind. 
A weaker woman would have implored, tormented, 
till she knew all. Catherine's very strength and deli- 
cacy of nature, and that respect which was inbred in 
her for the sacra of the inner life, stood in her way. 
She could not catechise him, and force his confidence 
on this subject of all others. It must be given freely. 
And oh ! it was so long in coming ! 

Surely, surely, it must be mainly physical, the result 
of overstrain expressing itself in characteristic men- 
tal worry, just as daily life reproduces itself in dreams. 
The worldly man suffers at such times through worldly 
things, the religious man through his religion. Com- 
forting herself a little with thoughts of this kind, and 
with certain more or less vague preparations for de- 
parture, Catherine got through the morning as best 
she might. 

[ 92 ] 



CRISIS 

Meanwhile, Robert was trudging along to Thurston 
under a sky which, after a few threatening showers, 
promised once more to be a sky of intense heat. He 
had with him all the tackle necessary for spooning 
pike, a sport the novelty and success of which had 
hugely commended it the year before to those Esau- 
like instincts Murewell had so much developed in 
him. 

And now oh the weariness of the August warmth, 
and the long stretches of sandy road ! By the time he 
reached the ponds he was tired out; but instead of 
stopping at the largest of the three, where a pictur- 
esque group of old brick cottages brought a reminder 
of man and his works into the prairie solitude of the 
common, he pushed on to a smaller pool just beyond, 
now hidden in a green cloud of birch- wood. Here, 
after pushing his way through the closely^-set trees, 
he made some futile attempts at fishing, only to put 
up his rod long before the morning was over and lay 
it beside him on the bank. And there he sat for 
hours, vaguely watching the reflexion of the clouds, 
the gambols and quarrels of the waterfowl, the ways 
of the birds, the alternations of sun and shadow on 
the softly-moving trees, the real self of him passing 
all the while through an interminable inward drama, 
starting from the past, stretching to the future, steeped 
in passion, in pity, in regret. 

He thought of the feelings with which he had taken 
orders, of Oxford scenes and Oxford persons, of the 
efforts, the pains, the successes of his first year at 
Murewell. What a ghastly mistake it had all been ! 
He felt a kind of sore contempt for himself, for his 
[ 93 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

own lack of prescience, of self-knowledge. His life 
looked to him so shallow and worthless. How does a 
man ever retrieve such a false step? He groaned 
aloud as he thought of Catherine linked to one born 
to defeat her hopes, and all that natural pride that a 
woman feels in the strength and consistency of the 
man she loves. As he sat there by the water he 
touched the depths of self-humiliation. 

As to religious belief, everything was a chaos. What 
might be to him the ultimate forms and condition of 
thought, the tired mind was quite incapable of divin- 
ing. To every stage in the process of destruction it 
was feverishly alive. But its formative energy was 
for the moment gone. The foundations were swept 
away, and everything must be built up afresh. Only 
the habit of faith held, the close instinctive clinging to 
a Power beyond sense a Goodness, a Will, not 
man's. The soul had been stripped of its old defences, 
but at his worst there was never a moment when 
Elsmere felt himself utterly forsaken. 

But his people his work ! Every now and then 
into the fragmentary debate still going on within him 
there would flash little pictures of Murewell. The 
green, with the sun on the house-fronts, the awning 
over the village shop, the vane on the old 'Manor- 
house/ the familiar figures at the doors; his church, 
with every figure in the Sunday congregation as clear 
to him as though he were that moment in the pul- 
pit; the children he had taught, the sick he had 
nursed, this or that weather-beaten or brutalised 
peasant whose history he knew, whose tragic secrets 
he had learnt, -- all these memories and images 

[ 94 ] 



CRISIS 

clung about him as though with ghostly hands, asking, 
'Why will you desert us? You are ours stay 
with us!' 

Then his thoughts would run over the future, dwell- 
ing, with a tense realistic sharpness, on every detail 
which lay before him the arrangements with his 
locum tenens, the interview with the bishop, the part- 
ing with the rectory. It even occurred to him to 
wonder what must be done with Martha and his 
mother's cottage. 

His mother? As he thought of her a wave of un- 
utterable longing rose and broke. The difficult tears 
stood in his eyes. He had a strange conviction that 
at this crisis of his life she of all human beings would 
have understood him best. 

When would the squire know? He pictured the 
interview with him, divining, with the same abnor- 
mal clearness of inward vision, Mr. Wendover's start 
of mingled triumph and impatience triumph in the 
new recruit, impatience with the Quixotic folly which 
could lead a man to look upon orthodox dogma as a 
thing real enough to be publicly renounced, or clerical 
pledges as more than a form of words. So henceforth 
he was on the same side with the squire, held by an 
indiscriminating world as bound to the same nega- 
tions, the same hostilities! The thought roused in 
him a sudden fierceness of moral repugnance. The 
squire and Edward Langham they were the only 
sceptics of whom he had ever had close and personal 
experience. And with all his old affection for Lang- 
ham, all his frank sense of pliancy in the squire's 
hands, yet in this strait of life how he shrinks from 
[ 95 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

them both ! souls at war with life and man, with- 
out holiness, without perfume ! 

Is it the law of things? 'Once loosen a man's 
religio, once fling away the old binding elements, the 
old traditional restraints which have made him what 
he is, and moral deterioration is certain/ How often 
he has heard it said ! How often he has endorsed it ! 
Is it true? His heart grows cold within him. What 
good man can ever contemplate with patience the 
loss, not of friends or happiness, but of his best self? 
What shall it profit a man, indeed, if he gain the 
whole world the whole world of knowledge and 
speculation and lose his own soul? 

And then, for his endless comfort, there rose on 
the inward eye the vision of an Oxford lecture-room, 
of a short sturdy figure, of a great brow over honest 
eyes, of words alive with moral passion, of thought 
instinct with the beauty of holiness. Thank God for 
the saint in Henry Grey ! Thinking of it, Robert felt 
his own self-respect re-born. 

Oh ! to see Grey in the flesh, to get his advice, his 
approval ! Even though it was the depths of vacation, 
Grey was so closely connected with the town, as dis- 
tinguished from the university, life of Oxford, it might 
be quite possible to find him at home. Elsmere 
suddenly determined to find out at once if he could 
be seen. 

And if so, he would go over to Oxford at once. 
This should be the next step, and he would say no- 
thing to Catherine till afterwards. He felt himself so 
dull, so weary, so resourceless. Grey should help and 
counsel him, should send him back with a clearer 



CRISIS 

brain a quicker ingenuity of love, better furnished 
against her pain and his own. 

Then everything else was forgotten ; and he thought 
of nothing but that grisly moment of waking in the 
empty room, when still believing it night, he had put 
out his hand for his wife, and with a superstitious 
pang had felt himself alone. His heart torn with a 
hundred inarticulate cries of memory and grief, he 
sat on beside the water, unconscious of the passing 
of time, his grey eyes staring sightlessly at the wood- 
pigeons as they flew past him, at the occasional flash 
of a kingfisher, at the moving panorama of summer 
clouds above the trees opposite. 

At last he was startled back to consciousness by the 
fall of a few heavy drops of warm rain. He looked at 
his watch. It was nearly four o'clock. He rose, stiff 
and cramped with sitting, and at the same instant he 
saw beyond the birch-wood on the open stretch of 
common a boy's figure, which, after a step or two, he 
recognised as Ned Irwin. 

' You here, Ned ? ' he said, stopping, the pastoral tem- 
per in him reasserting itself at once. 'Why are n't you 
harvesting?' 

' Please, sir, I finished with the Hall medders yester- 
day, and Mr. Carter's job don't begin till to-morrow. 
He's got a machine coming from Witley, hehev, and 
they won't let him have it till Thursday, so I 've been 
out after things for the club.' 

And opening the tin box strapped on his back, he 
showed the day's capture of butterflies, and some be- 
lated birds' eggs, the plunder of a bit of common where 
the turf for the winter's burning was just being cut. 
[ 97 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Goatsucker, linnet, stonechat,' said the rector, 
fingering them. 'Well done for August, Ned. If you 
have n't got anything better to do with them, give 
them to that small boy of Mr. Carter's that's been ill 
so long. He'd thank you for them, I know/ 

The lad nodded with a guttural sound of assent. 
Then his new-born scientific ardour seemed to struggle 
with his rustic costiveness of speech. 

'I've just been watching a queer creetur/ he said at 
last hurriedly; 'I b'leeve he's that un.' 

And he pulled out a well-thumbed handbook, and 
pointed to a cut of the grasshopper warbler. 

'Whereabouts?' asked Robert, wondering the while 
at his own start of interest. 

'In that bit of common t' other side the big pond,' 
said Ned, pointing, his brick-red countenance kindling 
into suppressed excitement. 

' Come and show me ! ' said the rector, and the two 
went off together. And sure enough, after a little 
beating about, they heard the note which had roused 
the lad's curiosity, the loud whirr of a creature that 
should have been a grasshopper, and was not. 

They stalked the bird a few yards, stooping and 
crouching, Robert's eager hand on the boy's arm, 
whenever the clumsy rustic movements made too 
much noise among the underwood. They watched it 
uttering its jarring imitative note on bush after bush, 
just dropping to the ground as they came near, and 
flitting a yard or two farther, but otherwise showing 
no sign of alarm at their presence. Then suddenly the 
impulse which had been leading him on died in the 
rector. He stood upright, with a long sigh. 
[ 98 ] 



CRISIS 

'I must go home, Ned,' he said abruptly. 'Where 
are you off to?' 

'Please, sir, there's my sister at the cottage, her as 
married Jim, the under-keeper. I be going there for 
my tea.' 

'Come along, then, we can go together.' 

They trudged along in silence; presently Robert 
turned on his companion. 

'Ned, this natural history has been a fine thing for 
you, my lad; mind you stick to it. That and good 
work will make a man of you. When I go away - 

The boy started and stopped dead, his dumb animal 
eyes fixed on his companion. 

'You know I shall soon be going off on my holiday,' 
said Robert, smiling faintly; adding hurriedly as the 
boy's face resumed its ordinary expression : ' But some 
day, Ned, I shall go for good. I don't know whether 
you've been depending on me you and some of the 
others. I think perhaps you have. If so, don't depend 
on me, Ned, any more ! It must all come to an end 
everything must everything! except the struggle 
to be a man in the world, and not a beast to make 
one's heart clean and soft, and not hard and vile. That 
is the one thing that matters, and lasts. Ah, never for- 
get that, Ned! Never forget it!' 

He stood still, towering over the slouching thick-set 
form beside him, his pale intensity of look giving a rare 
dignity and beauty to the face which owed so little of 
its attractiveness to comeliness of feature. He had the 
makings of a true shepherd of men, and his mind as he 
spoke was crossed by a hundred different currents of 
feeling bitterness, pain, and yearning unspeakable. 

[ 99 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

No man could feel the wrench that lay before him 
more than he. 

Ned Irwin said not a word. His heavy lids were 
dropped over his deep-set 'eye ; he stood motionless, 
nervously fiddling with his butterfly net awkward- 
ness, and, as it seemed, irresponsiveness, in his 
whole attitude. 

Robert gathered himself together. 

'Well, good-night, my lad/ he said with a change of 
tone. ' Good luck to you ; be off to your tea ! ' 

And he turned away, striding swiftly over the short 
burnt August grass in the direction of the Murewell 
woods, which rose in a blue haze of heat against the 
slumberous afternoon sky. He had not gone a hun- 
dred yards before he heard a clattering after him. He 
stopped, and Ned came up with him. 

'They're heavy, them things/ said the boy, desper- 
ately blurting it out, and pointing, with heaving chest 
and panting breath, to the rod and basket. ' I am go- 
ing that way, I can leave un at the rectory/ 

Robert's eyes gleamed. 

'They are no weight, Ned 'cause why? I've been 
lazy and caught no fish! But there/ -- after a mo- 
ment's hesitation he slipped off the basket and rod, 
and put them into the begrimed hands held out for 
them. 'Bring them when you like; I don't know when 
I shall want them again. Thank you, and God bless 
you!' 

The boy was off with his booty in a second. 

'Perhaps he'll like to think he did it for me, by and 
by/ said Robert sadly to himself, moving on, a little 
moisture in the clear grey eye. 
[ 100 ] 



CRISIS 

About three o'clock next day Robert was in Oxford. 
The night before he had telegraphed to ask if Grey 
was at home. The reply had been 'Here for a week 
on way north; come by all means/ Oh! that look of 
Catherine's when he had told her of his plan, trying in 
vain to make it look merely casual and ordinary. 

' It is more than a year since I have set eyes on Grey, 
Catherine. And the day's change would be a boon. I 
could stay the night at Merton, and get home early 
next day.' 

But as he turned a pleading look to her, he had been 
startled by the sudden rigidity of face and form. Her 
silence had in it an intense, almost a haughty, reproach, 
which she was too keenly hurt to put into words. 

He caught her by the arm, and drew her forcibly to 
him. There he made her look into the eyes which were 
full of nothing but the most passionate imploring af- 
fection. 

'Have patience a little more, Catherine!' he just 
murmured. 'Oh, how I have blessed you for silence! 
Only till I come back!' 

' Till you come back,' she repeated slowly. ' I cannot 
bear it any longer, Robert, that you should give others 
your confidence, and not me.' 

He groaned and let her go. No there should be 
but one day more of silence, and that day was inter- 
posed for her sake. If Grey from his calmer standpoint 
bade him wait and test himself, before taking any 
irrevocable step, he would obey him. And if so, the 
worst pang of all need not yet be inflicted on Catherine, 
though as to his state of mind he would be perfectly 
open with her. 

[ 101 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

A few hours later his cab deposited him at the well- 
known door. It seemed to him that he and the 
scorched plane-trees lining the sides of the road were 
the only living things in the wide sun-beaten street. 

Every house was shut up. Only the Greys' open 
windows, amid their shuttered neighbours, had a 
friendly human air. 

Yes ; Mr. Grey was in, and expecting Mr. Elsmere. 
Robert climbed the dim familiar staircase, his heart 
beating fast. 

'Elsmere, this is a piece of good fortune!' 

And the two men, after a grasp of the hand, stood 
fronting each other ; Mr. Grey, a light of pleasure on 
the rugged dark-complexioned face, looking up at his 
taller and paler visitor. 

But Robert could find nothing to say in return ; and 
in an instant Mr. Grey's quick eye detected the 
strained nervous emotion of the man before him. 

1 Come and sit down, Elsmere there, in the win- 
dow, where we can talk. One has to live on this east 
side of the house this weather.' 

'In the first place,' said Mr. Grey, scrutinising him, 
as he returned to his own book-littered corner of the 
window-seat, 'in the first place, my dear fellow, I 
can't congratulate you on your appearance. I never 
saw a man look in worse condition to be up and about. ' 

'That's nothing!' said Robert, almost impatiently, 
'I want a holiday, I believe. Grey!' and he looked 
nervously out over garden and apple-trees, 'I have 
come very selfishly to ask your advice ; to throw 
a trouble upon you, to claim all your friendship can 
give me.' 

[ 102 ] 



CRISIS 

He stopped. Mr. Grey was silent his expression 
changing instantly, the bright eyes profoundly, anx- 
iously attentive. 

'I have just come to the conclusion/ said Robert, 
after a moment, with quick abruptness, 'that I ought 
now at this moment to leave the Church, and 
give up my living, for reasons which I will describe to 
you. But before I act on the conclusion, I wanted the 
light of your mind upon it, seeing that that- 
other persons than myself are concerned/ 

'Give up your living I' echoed Mr. Grey in a low 
voice of astonishment. He sat looking at the face and 
figure of the man before him with a half -frowning 
expression. How often Robert had seen some rash 
exuberant youth quelled by that momentary frown ! 
Essentially conservative as was the inmost nature of 
the man, for all his radicalism there were few things for 
which Henry Grey felt more instinctive distaste than 
for unsteadiness of will and purpose, however glorified 
by fine names. Robert knew it, and, strangely enough, 
felt for a moment in the presence of the heretical tutor 
as a culprit before a judge. 

'It is, of course, a matter of opinions/ he said, with 
an effort. 'Do you remember, before I took orders, 
asking whether I had ever had difficulties, and I told 
you that I had probably never gone deep enough. It 
was profoundly true, though I did n't really mean it. 
But this year No, no, I have not been merely 
vain and hasty ! I may be a shallow creature, but it 
has been natural growth, not wantonness/ 

And at last his eyes met Mr. Grey's firmly, almost 
with solemnity. It was as if in the last few moments 
[ 103 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

he had been instinctively testing the quality of his own 
conduct and motives by the touchstone of the rare 
personality beside him; and they had stood the trial. 
There was such pain, such -sincerity, above all such 
freedom from littleness of soul implied in words and 
look, that Mr. Grey quickly held out his hand. Robert 
grasped it, and felt that the way was clear before him. 

'Will you give me an account of it? 7 said Mr. Grey, 
and his tone was grave sympathy itself. 'Or would 
you rather confine yourself to generalities and accom- 
plished facts?' 

'I will try and give you an account of it/ said 
Robert ; and sitting there with his elbows on his knees, 
his gaze fixed on the yellowing afternoon sky, and 
the intricacies of the garden-walls between them and 
the new Museum, he went through the history of the 
last two years. He described the beginnings of his 
historical work, the gradual enlargement of the mind's 
horizons, and the intrusion within them of question 
after question, and subject after subject. Then he 
mentioned the squire's name. 

'Ah!' exclaimed Mr. Grey, 'I had forgotten you 
were that man's neighbour. I wonder he did n't set 
you against the whole business, inhuman old cynic!' 

He spoke with the strong dislike of the idealist, 
devoted in practice to an everyday ministry to human 
need, for the intellectual egotist. Robert caught and 
relished the old pugnacious flash in the eye, the Mid- 
land strength of accent. 

'Cynic he is, not altogether inhuman, I think. I 
fought him about his drains and his cottages, how- 
ever,' and he smiled sadly, 'before I began to 
[ 104 ] 



CRISIS 

read his books. But the man's genius is incontestable, 
his learning enormous. He found me in a susceptible 
state, and I recognise that his influence immensely 
accelerated a process already begun.' 

Mr. Grey was struck with the simplicity and fulness 
of the avowal. A lesser man would hardly have made 
it in the same way. Rising to pace up and down the 
room the familiar action recalling vividly to Robert 
the Sunday afternoons of bygone years he began 
to put questions with a clearness and decision that 
made them so many guides to the man answering, 
through the tangle of his own recollections. 

'I see/ said the tutor at last, his hands in the 
pockets of his short grey coat, his brow bent and 
thoughtful. 'Well, the process in you has been the 
typical process of the present day. Abstract thought 
has had little or nothing to say to it. It has been all 
a question of literary and historical evidence. / am 
old-fashioned enough' --and he smiled 'to stick 
to the a priori impossibility of miracles, but then I am 
a philosopher ! You have come to see how miracle is 
manufactured, to recognise in it merely a natural 
inevitable outgrowth of human testimony, in its pre- 
scientific stages. It has been all experimental, induc- 
tive. I imagine' - he looked up 'you did n't get 
much help out of the orthodox apologists?' 

Robert shrugged his shoulders. 

'It often seemed to me,' he said drearily, 'I might 
have got through, but for the men whose books I used 
to read and respect most in old days. The point of 
view is generally so extraordinarily limited. West- 
cott, for instance, who means so much nowadays to 
[ 105 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

the English religious world, first isolates Christianity 
from all the other religious phenomena of the world, 
and then argues upon its details. You might as 
well isolate English jurisprudence, and discuss its 
details without any reference to Teutonic custom or 
Roman law ! You may be as logical or as learned as 
you like within the limits chosen, but the whole result 
is false! You treat Christian witness and Biblical 
literature as you would treat no other witness, and no 
other literature in the world. And you cannot show 
cause enough. For your reasons depend on the very 
witness under dispute. And so you go on arguing in 
a circle, ad infinitum.' 

But his voice dropped. The momentary eagerness 
died away as quickly as it had risen, leaving nothing 
but depression behind it. 

Mr. Grey meditated. At last he said, with a delicate 
change of tone, - 

'And now if I may ask it, Elsmere how far 
has this destructive process gone?' 

'I can't tell you/ said Robert, turning away almost 
with a groan; 'I only know that the things I loved 
once I love still, and that that if I had the heart 
to think at all, I should see more of God in the world 
than I ever saw before!' 

The tutor's eye flashed. Robert had gone back to 
the window, and was miserably looking out. After all, 
he had told only half his story. 

'And so you feel you must give up your living?' 

'What else is there for me to do?' cried Robert, 
turning upon him, startled by the slow deliberate tone. 

'Well, of course, you know that there are many men, 
[ 106 1 



CRISIS 

men with whom both you and I are acquainted, who 
hold very much what I imagine your opinions now are, 
or will settle into, who are still in the Church of 
England, doing admirable work there ! ' 

'I know/ said Elsmere quickly 'I know; I cannot 
conceive it, nor could you. Imagine standing up Sun- 
day after Sunday to say the things you do not believe, 

- using words as a convention which those who hear 
you receive as literal truth, and trusting the main- 
tenance of your position either to your neighbour's 
forbearance or to your own powers of evasion ! With 
the ideas at present in my head, nothing would induce 
me to preach another Easter Day sermon to a congre- 
gation that have both a moral and a legal right to 
demand from me an implicit belief in the material 
miracle ! ' 

1 Yes/ said the other gravely ' yes, I believe you 
are right. It can't be said the Broad Church move- 
ment has helped us much ! How greatly it promised ! 

- how little it has performed ! For the private person, 
the worshipper, it is different or I think so. No 
man pries into our prayers; and to cut ourselves off 
from common worship is to lose that fellowship which 
is in itself a witness and vehicle of God/ 

But his tone had grown hesitating, and touched 
with melancholy. 

There was a moment's silence.. Then Robert walked 
up to him again. 

'At the same time/ he said falteringly, standing 

before the elder man, as he might have stood as an 

undergraduate, 'let me not be rash! If you think this 

change has been too rapid to last if you, knowing 

[ 107 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

me better than at this moment I can know myself if 
you bid me wait a while, before I take any overt 
step, I will wait oh, God knows I will wait ! my 
wife-' and his husky voice- failed him utterly. 

'Your wife!' cried Mr. Grey, startled. 'Mrs. Els- 
mere does not know?' 

'My wife knows nothing, or almost nothing and 
it will break her heart ! ' 

He moved hastily away again, and stood with his 
back to his friend, his tall narrow form outlined 
against the window. Mr. Grey was left in dismay, 
rapidly turning over the impressions of Catherine left 
on him by his last year's sight of her. That pale dis- 
tinguished woman with her look of strength and char- 
acter, he remembered Langham's analysis of her, 
and of the silent religious intensity she had brought 
with her from her training among the Northern hills. 

Was there a bitterly human tragedy preparing under 
all this thought-drama he had been listening to? 

Deeply moved, he went up to Robert, and laid his 
rugged hand almost timidly upon him. 

' Elsmere, it won't break her heart ! You are a good 
man. She is a good woman/ What an infinity of 
meaning there was in the simple words! 'Take cour- 
age. Tell her at once tell her everything and let 
her decide whether there shall be any waiting. I can- 
not help you there ; she can ; she will probably under- 
stand you better than 'you understand yourself.' 

He tightened his grasp, and gently pushed his guest 

into a chair beside him. Robert was deadly pale, his 

face quivering painfully. The long physical strain of 

the past months had weakened for the moment all 

[ 108 ] 



cms* 5 

the controlling forces of th-" to be taken vd over 
him the whole man dila^ de .^ Ro ^?ng, under a 
tyrannous stress of feeling. w ' 

'It is hard, it is bitter/ he said slowly, with a won- 
derful manly tenderness. 'I know it, I have gone 
through it. So has many and many a poor soul that 
you and I have known! But there need be no sting 
in the wound unless we ourselves envenom it. I know 
oh ! I know very well the man of the world scoffs, 
but to him who has once been a Christian of the old 
sort, the parting with the Christian mythology is the 
rending asunder of bones and marrow. It means part- 
ing with half the confidence, half the joy, of life ! But 
take heart/ and the tone grew still more solemn, still 
more penetrating. 'It is the education of God! Do 
not imagine it will put you farther from Him ! He is 
in criticism, in science, in doubt, so long as the doubt 
is a pure and honest doubt, as yours is. He is in all 
life, in all thought. The thought of man, as it has 
shaped itself in institutions, in philosophies, in science, 
in patient critical work, or in the life of charity, is the 
one continuous revelation of God! Look for Him in 
it all; see how, little by little, the Divine indwelling 
force, using as its tools but merely as its tools ! - 
man's physical appetites and conditions, has built up 
conscience and the moral life ; think how every faculty 
of the mind has been trained in turn to take its part in 
the great work of faith upon the visible world ! Love 
and imagination built up religion, shall reason de- 
stroy it? No! -- reason is God's like the rest! Trust 
it, trust Him. The leading-strings of the past are 
dropping from you ; they are dropping from the world, 
[ 109 ] 



ROBERTA ELSMERE 

not wa^r than at this mome, but in the providence of 
God. Learn wait a whik your own pain, learn to 
seek God, not in any ^figle event of past history, but 
in your own soul, in the constant verifications of 
experience, in the life of Christian love. Spiritually 
you have gone through the last wrench, I promise it 
you! You being what you are, nothing can cut this 
ground from under your feet. Whatever may have 
been the forms of human belief, faith, the faith which 
saves, has always been rooted here ! All things change, 
- creeds and philosophies and outward systems, 
but God remains ! 

' "Life, that in me has rest, 

As I, undying Life, have power in Thee! " 

The lines dropped with low vibrating force from 
lips unaccustomed indeed to such an outburst. The 
speaker stood a moment longer in silence beside the 
figure in the chair, and it seemed to Robert, gazing at 
him with fixed eyes, that the man's whole presence, at 
once so homely and so majestic, was charged with 
benediction. It was as though invisible hands of heal- 
ing and consecration had been laid upon him. The 
fiery soul beside him had kindled anew the drooping 
life of his own. So the torch of God passes on its way, 
hand reaching out to hand. 

He bent forward, stammering incoherent words of 
assent and gratitude, he knew not what. Mr. Grey, 
who had sunk into his chair, gave him time to recover 
himself. The intensity of the tutor's own mood re- 
laxed ; and presently he began to talk to his guest, in 
a wholly different tone, of the practical detail of the 



CRISIS 

step before him, supposing it to be taken immediately, 
discussing the probable attitude of Robert's bishop, 
the least conspicuous mode of withdrawing from the 
living, and so on all with gentleness and sympathy 
indeed, but with an indefinable change of manner, 
which showed that he felt it well both for himself and 
Elsmere to repress any further expression of emotion. 
There was something, a vein of stoicism perhaps, in 
Mr. Grey's temper of mind, which, while it gave a 
special force and sacredness to his rare moments of 
fervent speech, was wont in general to make men 
more self -controlled than usual in his presence. Rob- 
ert felt now the bracing force of it. 

'Will you stay with us to dinner?' Mr. Grey asked 
when at last Elsmere got up to go. 'There are one or 
two lone Fellows coming asked before your tele- 
gram came, of course. Do exactly as you like.' 

'I think not,' said Robert, after a pause. 'I longed 
to see you, but I am not fit for general society.' 

Mr. Grey did not press him. He rose and went with 
his visitor to the door. 

' Good-bye, good-bye ! Let me always know what I 
can do for you. And your wife poor thing, poor 
thing ! Go and tell her, Elsmere ; don't lose a moment 
you can help. God help her and you ! ' 

They grasped each other's hands. Mr. Grey followed 
him down the stairs and along the narrow hall. He 
opened the hall door, and smiled a last smile of en- 
couragement and sympathy into the eyes that ex- 
pressed such a young moved gratitude. The door 
closed. Little did Elsmere realise that never, in this 
life, would he see that smile or hear that voice again ! 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

IN half an hour from the time Mr. Grey's door 
closed upon him, Elsmere had caught a convenient 
cross-country train, and had left the Oxford towers 
and spires, the shrunken summer Isis, and the flat hot 
river meadows far behind him. He had meant to stay 
at Merton, as we know, for the night. Now, his one 
thought was to get back to Catherine. The urgency of 
Mr. Grey's words was upon him, and love had a miser- 
able pang that it should have needed to be urged. 

By eight o'clock he was again at Churton. There 
were no carriages waiting at the little station, but the 
thought of the walk across the darkening common 
through the August moonrise had been a refreshment 
to him in the heat and crowd of the train. He hurried 
through the small town, where the streets were full of 
summer idlers, and the lamps were twinkling in the 
still balmy air, along a dusty stretch of road, leaving 
man and his dwellings farther and farther to the rear 
of him, till at last he emerged on a boundless tract of 
common, and struck to the right into a cart-track 
leading to Murewell. 

He was on the top of a high sandy ridge, looking 
west and north, over a wide evening world of heather 
and wood and hill. To the right, far ahead, across the 
misty lower grounds into which he was soon to plunge, 
rose the woods of Murewell, black and massive in the 
twilight distance. To the left, but on a nearer plane, 



CRISIS 

the undulating common stretching downwards from 
where he stood rose suddenly towards a height crowned 
with a group of gaunt and jagged firs landmarks for 
all the plain of which every ghostly bough and crest 
was now sharply outlined against a luminous sky. For 
the wide heaven in front of him was still delicately 
glowing in all its under parts with soft harmonies of 
dusky red or blue, while in its higher zone the same 
tract of sky was closely covered with the finest net- 
work of pearl-white cloud, suffused at the moment with 
a silver radiance so intense that a spectator might al- 
most have dreamed the moon had forgotten its familiar 
place of rising, and was about to mount into a startled 
expectant west. Not a light in all the wide expanse, 
and for a while not a sound of human life, save the 
beat of Robert's step, or the occasional tap of his 
stick against the pebbles of the road. 

Presently he reached the edge of the ridge whence 
the rough track he was following sank sharply to the 
lower levels. Here was a marvellous point of view, and 
the rector stood a moment, beside a bare weather- 
blasted fir, a ghostly shadow thrown behind him. All 
around the gorse and heather seemed still radiating 
light, as though the air had been so drenched in sun- 
shine that even long after the sun had vanished the 
invading darkness found itself still unable to win firm 
possession of earth and sky. Every little stone in the 
sandy road was still weirdly visible ; the colour of the 
heather, now in lavish bloom, could be felt though 
hardly seen. 

Before him melted line after line of woodland, 
broken by hollow after hollow, filled with vaporous 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

wreaths of mist. About him were the sounds of a wild 
nature. The air was resonant with the purring of the 
nightjars, and every now and then he caught the loud 
clap of their wings as they swayed unsteadily through 
the furze and bracken. Overhead a trio of wild ducks 
flew across, from pond to pond, their hoarse cry de- 
scending through the darkness. The partridges on the 
hill called to each other, and certain sharp sounds be- 
trayed to the solitary listener the presence of a flock 
of swans on a neighbouring pool. 

The rector felt himself alone on a wide earth. It 
was almost with a start of pleasure that he caught at 
last the barking of dogs on a few distant farms, or the 
dim thunderous rush of a train through the wide 
wooded landscape beyond the heath. Behind that 
frowning mass of wood lay the rectory. The lights 
must be lit in the little drawing-room ; Catherine must 
be sitting by the lamp, her fine head bent over book or 
work, grieving for him perhaps, her anxious expectant 
heart going out to him through the dark. He thinks of 
the village lying wrapped in the peace of the August 
night, the lamp-rays from shop-front or casement 
streaming out on to the green ; he thinks of his child, 
of his dead mother, feeling heavy and bitter within 
him all the time the message of separation and exile. 

But his mood was no longer one of mere dread, of 
helpless pain, of miserable self-scorn. Contact with 
Henry Grey had brought him that rekindling of the 
flame of conscience, that medicinal stirring of the 
soul's waters, which is the most precious boon that 
man can give to man. In that sense which attaches to 
every successive resurrection of our best life from the 
[ 114 ] 



CRISIS 

shades of despair or selfishness, he had that day, al- 
most that hour, been born again. He was no longer 
filled mainly with the sense of personal failure, with 
scorn for his own blundering impetuous temper, so 
lacking in prescience and in balance ; or, in respect to 
his wife, with such an anguished impotent remorse. 
He was nerved and braced ; whatever oscillations the 
mind might go through in its search for another equi- 
librium, to-night there was a moment of calm. The 
earth to him was once more full of God, existence full 
of value. 

'The things I have always loved, I love still P he had 
said to Mr. Grey. And in this healing darkness it was 
as if the old loves, the old familiar images of thought, 
returned to him new-clad, re-entering the desolate 
heart in a white-winged procession of consolation. On 
the heath beside him the Christ stood once more, and 
as the disciple felt the sacred presence he could bear 
for the first time to let the chafing pent-up current of 
love flow into the new channels, so painfully prepared 
for it by the toil of thought. 'Either God or an im- 
postor.' What scorn the heart, the intellect, threw on 
the alternative ! Not in the dress of speculations which 
represent the product of long past, long superseded 
looms of human thought, but in the guise of common 
manhood, laden like his fellows with the pathetic 
weight of human weakness and human ignorance, the 
Master moves towards him - 

'Like you, my son, I struggled and I prayed. Like you, 
I had my days of doubt and nights of wrestling. I had my 
dreams, my delusions, with my fellows. I was weak; I 
suffered; I died. But God was in me, and the courage, the 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

patience, the love He gave to me, the scenes of the poor 
human life He inspired, have become by His will the 
world's eternal lesson man's primer of Divine things, 
hung high in the eyes of all, simple and wise, that all 
may see and all may learn. Take it to your heart again 
that life, that pain, of mine! Use it to new ends; ap- 
prehend it in new ways; but knowledge shall not take it 
from you; and love, instead of weakening or forgetting, 
if it be but faithful, shall find ever fresh power of realis- 
ing and renewing itself.' 

So said the vision; and carrying the passion of it 
deep in his heart the rector went his way, down the 
long stony hill, past the solitary farm amid the trees at 
the foot of it, across the grassy common beyond, with 
its sentinel clumps of beeches, past an ethereal string of 
tiny lakes just touched by the moonrise, beside some 
of the first cottages of Murewell, up the hill, with pulse 
beating and step quickening, and round into the 
stretch of road leading to his own gate. 

As soon as he had passed the screen made by the 
shrubs on the lawn, he saw it all as he had seen it in 
his waking dream on the common the lamplight, the 
open windows, the white muslin curtains swaying a 
little in the soft evening air, and Catherine's figure seen 
dimly through them. 

The noise of the gate, however of the steps on the 
drive had startled her. He saw her rise quickly from 
her low chair, put some work down beside her, and 
move in haste to the window. 

' Robert ! ' she cried in amazement. 

'Yes,' he answered, still some yards from her, his 
voice coming strangely to her out of the moonlit dark- 



CRISIS 

ness. ' I did my errand early ; I found I could get back , 
and here I am/ 

She flew to the door, opened it, and felt herself 
caught in his arms. 

* Robert, you are quite damp!' she said, fluttering 
and shrinking, for all her sweet habitual gravity of 
manner was it the passion of that yearning em- 
brace? 'Have you walked?' 

'Yes. It is the dew on the common, I suppose. The 
grass was drenched.' 

'Will you have some food? They can bring back the 
supper directly.' 

'I don't want any food now,' he said, hanging up his 
hat. ' I got some lunch in town, and a cup of soup at 
Reading coming back. Perhaps you will give me some 
tea soon not yet.' 

He came up to her, pushing back the thick dis- 
ordered locks of hair from his eyes with one hand, the 
other held out to her. As he came under the light of 
the hall lamp she was so startled by the grey pallor of 
the face that she caught hold of his outstretched hand 
with both hers. What she said he never knew her 
look was enough. He put his arm round her, and as he 
opened the drawing-room door holding her pressed 
against him, she felt the desperate agitation in him 
penetrating, beating against an almost iron self-control 
of manner. He shut the door behind them. 

'Robert, dear Robert!' she said, clinging to him, 
'there is bad news, tell me there is something to 
tell me ! Oh ! what is it what is it?' 

It was almost like a child's wail. His brow con- 
tracted still more painfully. 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'My darling/ he said; 'my darling my dear dear 
wife!' and he bent his head down to her as she lay 
against his breast, kissing her hair with a passion of 
pity, of remorse, of tenderness, which seemed to rend 
his whole nature. 

'Tell me tell me Robert !' 

He guided her gently across the room, past the sofa 
over which her work lay scattered, past the flower- 
table, now a many-coloured mass of roses, which was 
her especial pride, past the remains of a brick castle 
which had delighted Mary's wondering eyes and mis- 
chievous fingers an hour or two before, to a low chair 
by the open window looking on the wide moonlit ex- 
panse of cornfield. He put her into it, walked to the 
window on the other side of the room, shut it, and 
drew down the blind. Then he went back to her, and 
sank down beside her, kneeling, her hands in his. 

' My dear wife you have loved me you do love 
me?' 

She could not answer, she could only press his hands 
with her cold fingers, with a look and gesture that im- 
plored him to speak. 

'Calherine,' he said, still kneeling before her, 'you 
remember that night you came down to me in the 
study, the night I told you I was in trouble and you 
could not help me. Did you guess from what I said 
what the trouble was?' 

'Yes,' she answered, trembling, 'yes, I did, Robert; 
I thought you were depressed troubled about 
religion.' 

'And I know,' he said with an outburst of feeling, 
kissing her hands as they lay in his 'I know very 

[ H8 ] 



CRISIS 

well that you went upstairs and prayed for me, my 
white-souled angel ! But, Catherine, the trouble grew 
it got blacker and blacker. You were there beside me, 
and you could not help me. I dared not tell you about 
it; I could only struggle on alone, so terribly alone, 
sometimes ; and now I am beaten, beaten. And I come 
to you to ask you to help me in the only thing that 
remains to me. Help me, Catherine, to be an honest 
man to follow conscience to say and do the 
truth!' 

'Robert/ she said piteously, deadly pale, 'I don't 
understand/ 

' Oh, my poor darling ! ' he cried, with a kind of moan 
of pity and misery. Then still holding her, he said, 
with strong deliberate emphasis, looking into the grey- 
blue eyes the quivering face so full of austerity and 
delicacy, - 

' For six or seven months, Catherine really for 
much longer, though I never knew it I have been 
fighting with doubt doubt of orthodox Christianity 
- doubt of what the Church teaches of what I have 
to say and preach every Sunday. First it crept on me 
I knew not how. Then the weight grew heavier, and I 
began to struggle with it. I felt I must struggle with 
it. Many men, I suppose, in my position would have 
trampled on their doubts would have regarded 
them as sin in themselves, would have felt it their duty 
to ignore them as much as possible, trusting to time 
and God's help. I could not ignore them. The thought 
of questioning the most sacred beliefs that you and I ' 
and his voice faltered a moment ' held in com- 
mon was misery to me. On the other hand, I knew 

[ "9 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

myself. I knew that I could no more go on living to any 
purpose, with a whole region of the mind shut up, as 
it were, barred away from the rest of me, than I could 
go on living with a secret between myself and you. I 
could not hold my faith by a mere tenure of tyranny 
and fear. Faith that is not free that is not the faith 
of the whole creature, body, soul, and intellect - 
seemed to me a faith worthless both to God and man ! ' 

Catherine looked at him stupefied. The world seemed 
to be turning round her. Infinitely more terrible than 
his actual words was the accent running through words 
and tone and gesture the accent of irreparableness, 
as of something dismally done and finished. What did 
it all mean? For what had he brought her there? She 
sat stunned, realising with awful force the feebleness, 
the inadequacy, of her own fears. 

He, meanwhile, had paused a moment, meeting her 
gaze with those yearning sunken eyes. Then he went 
on, his voice changing a little, - 

'But if I had wished it ever so much, I could not 
have helped myself. The process, so to speak, had gone 
too far by the time I knew where I was. I think the 
change must have begun before the Mile End time. 
Looking back, I see the foundations were laid in in 

- the work of last winter/ 

She shivered. He stooped and kissed her hands again 
passionately. 'Am I poisoning even the memory of 
our past for you?' he cried. Then, restraining himself 
at once, he hurried on again: 'After Mile End you re- 
member I began to see much of the squire. Oh, my 
wife, don't look at me so ! It was not his doing in any 
true sense. I am not such a weak shuttlecock as that ! 
[ 120 ] 



CRISIS 

But being where I was before our intimacy began, his 
influence hastened everything. I don't wish to minim- 
ise it. I was not made to stand alone!' 

And again that bitter, perplexed, half -scornful sense 
of his own pliancy at the hands of circumstance as 
compared with the rigidity of other men descended 
upon him. Catherine made a faint movement as though 
to draw her hands away. 

'Was it well/ she said, in a voice which sounded like 
a harsh echo of her own, 'was it right for a clergyman 
to discuss sacred things with such a man?' 

He let her hands go, guided for the moment by a 
delicate imperious instinct which bade him appeal to 
something else than love. Rising, he sat down oppo- 
site to her on the low window-seat, while she sank 
back into her chair, her fingers clinging to the arm of 
it, the lamplight far behind deepening all the shadows 
of the face, the hollows in the cheeks, the line of ex- 
perience and will about the mouth. The stupor in 
which she had just listened to him was beginning to 
break up. Wild forces of condemnation and resistance 
were rising in her ; and he knew it. He knew, too, that 
as yet she only half-realised the situation, and that 
blow after blow still remained to him to deal. 

' Was it right that I should discuss religious matters 
with the squire?' he repeated, his face resting on his 
hands. 'What are religious matters, Catherine, and 
what are not?' 

Then, still controlling himself rigidly, his eyes fixed 
on the shadowy face of his wife, his ear catching her 
quick uneven breath, he went once more through the 
dismal history of the last few months, dwelling on his 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

state of thought before the intimacy with Mr. Wend- 
over began, on his first attempts to escape the squire's 
influence, on his gradual pitiful surrender. Then he 
told the story of the last memorable walk before the 
squire's journey, of the moment in the study after- 
wards, and of the months of feverish reading and 
wrestling which had followed. Half-way through it a 
new despair seized him. What was the good of all he 
was saying? He was speaking a language she did not 
really understand. What were all these critical and 
literary considerations to her? 

The rigidity of her silence showed him that her sym- 
pathy was not with him, that in comparison with the 
vibrating protest of her own passionate faith which 
must be now ringing through her, whatever he could 
urge must seem to her the merest culpable trifling 
with the soul's awful destinies. In an instant of tumult- 
uous speech he could not convey to her the temper 
and results of his own complex training, and on that 
training, as he very well knew, depended the piercing, 
convincing force of all that he was saying. There were 
gulfs between them gulfs which, as it seemed to 
him, in a miserable insight, could never be bridged 
again. Oh, the frightful separateness of experience ! 

Still he struggled on. He brought the story down 
to the conversation at the Hall, described in broken 
words of fire and pain the moment of spiritual 
wreck which had come upon him in the August lane, 
his night of struggle, his resolve to go to Mr. Grey. And 
all through he was not so much narrating as pleading 
a cause, and that not his own, but Love's. Love was 
at the bar, and it was for love that the eloquent voice, 



CRISIS 

the pale varying face, were really pleading, through 
all the long story of intellectual change. 

At the mention of Mr. Grey, Catherine grew restless; 
she sat up suddenly, with a cry of bitterness. 

' Robert, why did you go away from me? It was 
cruel. I should have known first. He had no right 
no right!' 

She clasped her hands round her knees, her beauti- 
ful mouth set and stern. The moon had been sailing 
westward all this time, and as Catherine bent forward 
the yellow light caught her face, and brought out the 
haggard change in it. He held out his hands to her 
with a low groan, helpless against her reproach, her 
jealousy. He dared not speak of what Mr. Grey had 
done for him, of the tenderness of his counsel towards 
her specially. He felt that everything he could say 
would but torture the wounded heart still more. 

But she did not notice the outstretched hands. She 
covered her face in silence a moment, as though trying 
to see her way more clearly through the mazes of dis- 
aster ; and he waited. At last she looked up. 

'I cannot follow all you have been saying/ she said, 
almost harshly. 'I know so little of books, I cannot 
give them the place you do. You say you have con- 
vinced yourself the Gospels are like other books, full 
of mistakes, and credulous, like the people of the time ; 
and therefore you can't take what they say as you 
used to take it. But what does it all quite mean? Oh, 
I am not clever I cannot see my way clear from 
thing to thing as you do. If there are mistakes, does it 
matter so so terribly to you?' and she faltered. 
' Do you think nothing is true because something may 
[ 123 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

be false? Did not did not Jesus still live, and die, 
and rise again? can you doubt do you doubt 
that He rose that He is God that He is in heaven 
that we shall see Him?' 

She threw an intensity into every word, which made 
the short breathless questions thrill through him, 
through the nature saturated and steeped as hers was 
in Christian association, with a bitter accusing force. 
But he did not flinch from them. 

1 1 can believe no longer in an Incarnation and Re- 
surrection/ he said slowly, but with a resolute plain- 
ness. 'Christ is risen in our hearts, in the Christian 
life of charity. Miracle is a natural product of human 
feeling and imagination ; and God was in Jesus pre- 
eminently, as He is in all great souls, but not other- 
wise not otherwise in kind than He is in me or you/ 

His voice dropped to a whisper. She grew paler and 
paler. 

'So to you/ she said presently in the same strange 
altered voice, ' my father when I saw that light on 
his face before he died, when I heard him cry, "Master, 
/ come!" was dying deceived deluded. Perhaps 
even/ and she trembled, 'you think it ends here our 
life our love?' 

It was agony to him to see her driving herself through 
this piteous catechism. The lantern of memory flashed 
a moment on to the immortal picture of Faust and 
Margaret. Was it not only that winter they had read 
the scene together? 

Forcibly he possessed himself once more of those 
closely locked hands, pressing their coldness on his 
own burning eyes and forehead in hopeless silence. 
[ 124 ] 






CRISIS 

'Do you, Robert?' she repeated insistently. 

'I know nothing/ he said, his eyes still hidden. 'I 
know nothing ! But I trust God with all that is dearest 
to me, with our love, vrith the soul that is His breath, 
His work in us 1 / 

The pressure of her despair seemed to be wringing 
his own faith out of him, forcing into definiteness 
things and thoughts that had been lying in an ac- 
cepted, even a welcomed, obscurity. 

She tried again to draw her hands away, but he 
would not let them go. 'And the end of it all, Robert? ' 
she said 'the end of it?' 

Never did he forget the note of that question, the 
desolation of it, the indefinable change of accent. It 
drove him into a harsh abruptness of reply. 

'The end of it so far must be, if I remain an 

honest man, that I must give up my living, that I must 

cease to be a minister of the Church of England. What 

the course of our life after that shall be is in your hands 

absolutely/ 

She caught her breath painfully. His heart was 
breaking for her, and yet there was something in her 
manner now which kept down caresses and repressed 
all words. 

Suddenly, however, as he sat there mutely watching 
her, he found her at his knees, her dear arms around 
him, her face against his breast. 

' Robert, my husband, my darling, it cannot be ! It 
is a madness a delusion. God is trying you, and me ! 
You cannot be planning so to desert Him, so to deny 
Christ you cannot, my husband. Come away with 
me, away from books and work, into some quiet place 
[ 125 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

where He can make Himself heard. You are overdone, 
overdriven. Do nothing now say nothing except 
to me. Be patient a little, and He will give you back 
Himself! What can books and arguments matter to 
you or me? Have we not known and felt Him as He is 
-have we not, Robert? Come!' 

She pushed herself backwards, smiling at him with 
an exquisite tenderness. The tears were streaming 
down her cheeks. They were wet on his own. Another 
moment and Robert would have lost the only clue 
which remained to him through the mists of this be- 
wildering world. He would have yielded again as he 
had many times yielded before, for infinitely less 
reason, to the urgent pressure of another's individu- 
ality, and having jeopardised love for truth, he would 
now have murdered or tried to murder in him- 
self the sense of truth for love. 

But he did neither. 

Holding her close pressed against him, he said in 
breaks of intense speech : ' If you wish, Catherine, I 
will wait I will wait till you bid me speak but I 
warn you there is something dead in me some- 
thing gone and broken. It can never live again ex- 
cept in forms which now it would only pain you more 
to think of. It is not that I think differently of this 
point or that point but of life and religion alto- 
gether. I see God's purposes in quite other proportions, 
as it were. Christianity seems to me something small 
and local. Behind it, around it including it I see 
the great drama of the world, sweeping on led by 
God from change to change, from act to act. It is 
not that Christianity is false, but that it is only an im- 
[ 126 ] 



CRISIS 

perfect human reflexion of a part of truth. Truth has 
never been, can never be, contained in any one creed or 
system!' 

She heard, but through her exhaustion, through the 
bitter sinking of hope, she only half -understood. Only 
she realised that she and he were alike helpless both 
struggling in the grip of some force outside themselves, 
inexorable, ineluctable. 

Robert felt her arms relaxing, felt the dead weight 
of her form against him. He raised her to her feet, he 
half -carried her to the door, and on to the stairs. She 
was nearly fainting, but her will held it at bay. He 
threw open the door of their room, led her in, lifted 
her unresisting on to the bed. Then her head 
fell to one side, and her lips grew ashen. In an instant 
or two he had done for her all that his medical know- 
ledge could suggest with rapid decided hands. She was 
not quite unconscious; she drew up round her, as 
though with a strong vague sense of chill, the shawl he 
laid over her, and gradually the slightest shade of 
colour came back to her lips. But as soon as she opened 
her eyes and met those of Robert fixed upon her, the 
heavy lids dropped again. 

' Would you rather be alone? ' he said to her, kneeling 
beside her. 

She made a faint affirmative movement of the head, 
and the cold hand he had been chafing tried feebly to 
withdraw itself. He rose at once, and stood a moment 
beside her, looking down at her. Then he went. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

ME shut the door softly, and went downstairs again. 
It was between ten and eleven. The lights in the lower 
passage were just extinguished; every one else in the 
house had gone to bed. Mechanically he stooped and 
put away the child's bricks, he pushed the chairs back 
into their places, and then he paused a while before 
the open window. But there was not a tremor on the 
set face. He felt himself capable of no more emotion. 
The fount of feeling, of pain, was for the moment dried 
up. What he was mainly noticing was the effect of 
some occasional gusts of night-wind on the moonlit 
cornfield; the silver ripples they sent through it; the 
shadows thrown by some great trees in the western 
corners of the field ; the glory of the moon itself in the 
pale immensity of the sky. 

Presently he turned away, leaving one lamp still 
burning in the room, softly unlocked the hall door, 
took his hat, and went out. He walked up and down 
the wood-path or sat on the bench there for some time, 
thinking indeed, but thinking with a certain stern 
practical dryness. Whenever he felt the thrill of feeling 
stealing over him again, he would make a sharp effort 
at repression. Physically he could not bear much more, 
and he knew it. A part remained for him to play, 
which must be played with tact, with prudence, and 
with firmness. Strength and nerves had been suf- 
ficiently weakened already. For his wife's sake, his 
[ 128 ] 



CRISIS 

people's sake, his honourable reputation's sake, he 
must guard himself from a collapse which might mean 
far more than physical failure. 

So in the most patient methodical way he began to 
plan out the immediate future. As to waiting, the 
matter was still in Catherine's hands; but he knew 
that finely tempered soul; he knew that when she 
had mastered her poor woman's self, as she had 
always mastered it from her childhood, she would 
not bid him wait. He hardly took the possibility 
into consideration. The proposal had had some 
reality in his eyes when he went to see Mr. Grey; 
now it had none, though he could hardly have ex- 
plained why. 

He had already made arrangements with an old 
Oxford friend to take his duty during his absence on 
the Continent. It had been originally suggested that 
this Mr. Armitstead should come to Murewell on the 
Monday following the Sunday they were now ap- 
proaching, spend a few days with them before their 
departure, and be left to his own devices in the house 
and parish, about the Thursday or Friday. An intense 
desire now seized Robert to get hold of the man at 
once, before the next Sunday. It was strange how the 
interview with his wife seemed to have crystallised, 
precipitated, everything. How infinitely more real 
the whole matter looked to him since the afternoon! 
It had passed at any rate for the time out of the 
region of thought, into the hurrying evolution of ac- 
tion, and as soon as action began it was characteristic 
of Robert's rapid energetic nature to feel this thirst, 
to make it as prompt, as complete, as possible. The 
[ 129 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

fiery soul yearned for a fresh consistency, though it 
were a consistency of loss and renunciation. f 

To-morrow he must write to the bishop. The 
bishop's residence was only eight or ten miles from 
Murewell ; he supposed his interview with him would 
take place about Monday or Tuesday. He could see 
the tall stooping figure of the kindly old man rising to 
meet him ; he knew exactly the sort of arguments that 
would be brought to bear upon him. Oh, that it were 
done with this wearisome dialectical necessity ! His 
life for months had been one long argument. If he were 
but left free to feel, and live again ! 

The practical matter which weighed most heavily 
upon him was the function connected with the open- 
ing of the new Institute, which had been fixed for 
the Saturday the next day but one. How was he - 
but much more how was Catherine to get through 
it? His lips would be sealed as to any possible with- 
drawal from the living, for he could not by then have 
seen the bishop. He looked forward to the gathering, 
the crowds, the local enthusiasm, the signs of his own 
popularity, with a sickening distaste. The one thing 
real to him through it all would be Catherine's white 
face, and their bitter joint consciousness. 

And then he said to himself, sharply, that his own 
feelings counted for nothing. Catherine should be 
tenderly shielded from all avoidable pain, but for him- 
self there must be no flinching, no self-indulgent weak- 
ness. Did he not owe every last hour he had to give to 
the people amongst whom he had planned to spend the 
best energies of life, and from whom his own act was 
about to part him in this lame impotent fashion? 
[ 130 ] 



CRISIS 

Midnight ! The sounds rolled silverly out, effacing 
the soft murmurs of the night. So the long intermin- 
able day was over, and a new morning had begun. He 
rose, listening to the echoes of the bell, and as the 
tide of feeling surged back upon him passionately 
commending the new-born day to God. 

Then he turned towards the house, put the light 
out in the drawing-room, and went upstairs, stepping 
cautiously. He opened the door of Catherine's room. 
The moonlight was streaming in through the white 
blinds. Catherine, who had undressed, was lying now 
with her face hidden in the pillow, and one white- 
sleeved arm flung across little Mary's cot. The night 
was hot, and the child would evidently have thrown 
off all its coverings had it not been for the mother's 
hand, which lay lightly on the tiny shoulder, keeping 
one thin blanket in its place. 

'Catherine,' he whispered, standing beside her. 

She turned, and by the light of the candle he held 
shaded from her he saw the austere remoteness of her 
look, as of one who had been going through deep 
waters of misery, alone with God. His heart sank. 
For the first time that look seemed to exclude him 
from her inmost life. 

He sank down beside her, took the hand lying on 
the child, and laid down his head upon it, mutely kiss- 
ing it. But he said nothing. Of what further avail 
could words be just then to either of them? Only he 
felt through every fibre the coldness, the irresponsive- 
ness of those fingers lying in his. 

'Would it prevent your sleeping,' he asked her 
presently, 'if I came to read here, as I used to when 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

you were ill? I could shade the light from you, of 
course/ 

She raised her head suddenly. 

'But you you ought to sleep/ 

Her tone was anxious, but strangely quiet and aloof. 

1 Impossible ! ' he said, pressing his hand over his eyes 
as he rose. 'At any rate I will read first/ 

His sleeplessness at any time of excitement or strain 
was so inveterate, and so familiar to them both by now, 
that she could say nothing. She turned away with a 
long sobbing breath, which seemed to go through her 
from head to foot. He stood a moment beside her, 
fighting strong impulses of remorse and passion, and 
ultimately maintaining silence and self-control. 

In another minute or two he was sitting beside her 
feet, in a low chair drawn to the edge of the bed, the 
light arranged so as to reach his book without touching 
either mother or child. He had run over the book-shelf 
in his own room, shrinking painfully from any of his 
common religious favourites as one shrinks from touch- 
ing a still sore and throbbing nerve, and had at last 
carried off a volume of Spencer. 

And so the night began to wear away. For the first 
hour or two, every now and then, a stifled sob would 
make itself just faintly heard. It was a sound to wring 
the heart, for what it meant was that not even Cathe- 
rine Elsmere 's extraordinary powers of self -suppression 
could avail to check the outward expression of an in- 
ward torture. Each time it came and went, it seemed 
to Elsmere that a fraction of his youth went with it. 

At last exhaustion brought her a restless sleep. As 
soon as Elsmere caught the light breathing which told 



CRISIS 

him she was not conscious of her grief, or of him, his 
book slipped on to his knee. 

' Open the temple gates unto my love, 
Open them wide that she may enter in, 

And all the posts adorn as doth behove, 
And all the pillars deck with garlands trim, 

For to receive this saint with honour due 

That cometh in to ,you. 

With trembling steps and humble reverence, 

She cometh in before the Almighty's view.' 

The leaves fell over as the book dropped, and these 
lines, which had been to him, as to other lovers, the 
utterance of his own bridal joy, emerged. They 
brought about him a host of images a little grey 
church penetrated everywhere by the roar of a swollen 
river ; outside, a road filled with empty farmers' carts, 
and shouting children carrying branches of mountain- 
ash winding on and up into the heart of wild hills 
dyed with reddening fern, the sun-gleams stealing 
from crag to crag, and shoulder to shoulder; inside, 
row after row of intent faces, all turned towards the 
central passage, and, moving towards him, a figure 
'clad all in white, that seems a virgin best/ whose 
every step brings nearer to him the heaven of his 
heart's desire. Everything is plain to him Mrs % 
Thornburgh's round cheeks and marvellous curls 
and jubilant airs, Mrs. Leyburn's mild and tearful 
pleasure, the vicar's solid satisfaction. With what 
confiding joy had those who loved her given her to 
him! And he knows well that out of all griefs, the 
grief he has brought upon her in two short years is the 
one which will seem to her hardest to bear. Very few 
[ 133 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

women of the present day could feel this particular 
calamity as Catherine Elsmere must feel it. 

'Was it a crime to love and win you, my darling?' 
he cried to her in his heart. 'Ought I to have had more 
self-knowledge? Could I have guessed where I was 
taking you? Oh, how could I know how could I 
know?' 

But it was impossible to him to sink himself wholly 
in the past. Inevitably such a nature as Elsmere's 
turns very quickly from despair to hope; from the 
sense of failure to the passionate planning of new effort. 
In time will he not be able to comfort her, and, after 
a miserable moment of transition, to repair her trust 
in him and make their common life once more rich to- 
wards God and man? There must be painful readjust- 
ment and friction, no doubt. He tries to see the facts 
as they truly are, fighting against his own optimist 
tendencies, and realising as best he can all the changes 
which his great change must introduce into their most 
intimate relations. But after all can love and honesty 
and a clear conscience do nothing to bridge over, nay, 
to efface, such differences as theirs will be? 

Oh to bring her to understand him ! At this moment 
he shrinks painfully from the thought of touching her 
faith his own sense of loss is too heavy, too terrible. 
But if she will only be still open with him ! still give 
him her deepest heart, any lasting difference between 
them will surely be impossible. Each will complete 
the other, and love knit up the ravelled strands again 
into a stronger unity. 

Gradually he lost himself in half -articulate prayer, 
in the solemn girding of the will to this future task of 
[ 134 ] 



CRISIS 

a re-creating love. And by the time the morning light 
had well established itself sleep had fallen on him. 
When he became sensible of the longed-for drowsiness, 
he merely stretched out a tired hand and drew over 
him a shawl hanging at the foot of the bed. He was 
too utterly worn out to think of moving. 

When he woke the sun was streaming into the room, 
and behind him sat the tiny Mary on the edge of the 
bed, the rounded apple cheeks and wild-bird eyes 
kglow with mischief and delight. She had climbed out 
of her cot, and, finding no check to her progress, had 
crept on, till now she sat triumphantly, with one di- 
minutive leg and rosy foot doubled under her, and her 
father's thick hair at the mercy of her invading fin- 
gers, which, however, were as yet touching him half- 
timidly, as though something in his sleep had awed 
the baby sense. 

But Catherine was gone. 

He sprang up with a start. Mary was frightened by 
the abrupt movement, perhaps disappointed by the 
escape of her prey, and raised a sudden wail. 

He carried her to her nurse, even forgetting to kiss 
the little wet cheek, ascertained that Catherine was 
ncwin. the house, and then came back, miserable, with 
the bewilderment of sleep still upon him. A sense of 
wrong rose high within him. How could she have left 
him thus without a word? 

It had been her way, sometimes, during the sum- 
mer, to go out early to one or other of the sick folk 
who were under her especial charge. Possibly she had 
gone to a woman, just confined, on the farther side of 
the village, who yesterday had been in danger. 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

But, whatever explanation he could make for him- 
self, he was none the less irrationally wretched. He 
bathed, dressed, and sat down to his solitary meal 
in a state of tension and agitation indescribable. 
All the exaltation, the courage of the night, was gone. 

Nine o'clock, ten o'clock, and no sign of Catherine. 

'Your mistress must have been detained somewhere/ 
he said as quietly and carelessly as he could to Susan, 
the parlour-maid, who had been with them since their 
marriage. ' Leave breakfast things for one. ' 

'Mistress took a cup of milk when she went out, 
cook says/ observed the little maid with a consoling 
intention, wondering the while at the rector's haggard 
mien and restless movements. 

'Nursing other people indeed!' she observed se- 
verely downstairs, glad as we all are at times to pick 
holes in excellence which is inconveniently high. 'Mis- 
sis had a deal better stay at home and nurse him!' 

The day was excessively hot. Not a leaf moved in 
the garden ; over the cornfield the air danced in long 
vibrations of heat; the woods and hills beyond were 
indistinct and colourless. Their dog Dandy lay sleep- 
ing in the sun, waking up every now and then to 
avenge himself on the flies. On the far edge of the igrn- 
field reaping was beginning. Robert stood on the ecJge 
of the sunk fence, his blind eyes resting on the line of 
men, his ear catching the shouts of the farmer directing 
operations from his grey horse. He could do nothing. 
The night before, in the wood-path, he had clearly 
mapped out the day's work. A mass of business was 
waiting, clamouring to be done. He tried to begin on 
this or that, and gave up everything with a groan, wan- 
[ 136 ] 



1 f 



CRISIS 

dering out again to the gate on to the wood-path to 
sweep the distances of road or field with hungry strain- 
ing eyes. 

The wildest fears had taken possession of him. Run- 
ning in his head was a passage from ' The Confessions, ' 
describing Monica's horror of her son's heretical opin- 
ions. 'Shrinking from and detesting the blasphemies 
of his error, she began to doubt whether it was right in 
her to allow her son to live in her house and to eat at 
the same table with her'; and the mother's heart, he 
remembered, could only be convinced of the lawful- 
ness of its own yearning by a prophetic vision of the 
youth's conversion. He recalled, with a shiver, how 
in the life of Madame Guyon, after describing the pain- 
ful and agonising death of a kind but comparatively 
irreligious husband, she quietly adds, 'As soon as I 
heard that my husband had just expired, I said to 
Thee, my God, Thou hast broken my bonds, and I 
will offer to Thee a sacrifice of praise!' He thought 
of John Henry Newman, disowning all the ties of kin- 
ship with his younger brother because of divergent 
views on the question of baptismal regeneration; of 
the long tragedy of Blanco White's life, caused by the 
slow dropping-off of friend after friend, on the ground 
of heretical belief. What right had he, or any one in 
such a strait as his, to assume that the faith of the 
present is no longer capable of the same stern self- 
destructive consistency as the faith of the past? He 
knew that to such Christian purity, such Christian in- 
wardness as Catherine's, the ultimate sanction and 
legitimacy of marriage rest, both in theory and prac- 
tice, on a common acceptance of the definite commands 
[ 137 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

and promises of a miraculous revelation. He had had 
a proof of it in Catherine's passionate repugnance to 
the idea of Rose's marriage with Edward Langham. 

Eleven o'clock striking from the distant tower. ' He 
walked desperately along the wood-path, meaning to 
go through the copse at the end of it towards the park, 
and look there. He had just passed into the copse, a 
thick interwoven mass of young trees, when he heard 
the sound of the gate which on the farther side of it 
led on to the road. He hurried on; the trees closed 
behind him; the grassy path broadened; and there, 
under an arch of young oak and hazel, stood Cathe- 
rine, arrested by the sound of his step. He, too, stopped 
at the sight of her ; he could not go on. Husband and 
wife looked at each other one long quivering moment. 
Then Catherine sprang forward with a sob and threw 
herself on his breast. 

They clung to each other, she in a passion of tears - 
tears of such self-abandonment as neither Robert nor 
any other living soul had ever seen Catherine Elsmere 
shed before. As for him he was trembling from head 
to foot, his arms scarcely strong enough to hold her, 
his young worn face bent down over her. 

'Oh, Robert!' she sobbed at last, putting up her 
hand and touching his hair, 'you look so pale, so sad.' 

' I have you again ! ' he said simply. 

A thrill of remorse ran through her. 

'I went away,' she murmured, her face still hidden 
' I went away, because when I woke up it all seemed 
to me, suddenly, too ghastly to be believed; I could 
not stay still and bear it. But, Robert, Robert, I 
kissed you as I passed ! I was so thankful you could 
[ 138 ] 



CRISIS 

sleep a little and forget. I hardly know where I have 
been most of the time I think I have been sitting in 
a corner of the park, where no one ever comes. I began 
to think of all you said to me last night to put it 
together '- to try and understand it, and it seemed to 
me more and more horrible! I thought of what it 
would be like to have to hide my prayers from you 
my faith in Christ my hope of heaven. I thought of 
bringing up the child how all that was vital to me 
would be a superstition to you, which you would bear 
with for my sake. I thought of death/ and she shud- 
dered 'your death, or my death, and how this 
change in you would cleave a gulf of misery between us. 
And then I thought of losing my own faith, of denying 
Christ. It was a nightmare I saw myself on a long 
road, escaping with Mary in my arms, escaping from 
you! Oh, Robert! it was n't only for myself/ and 
she clung to him as though she were a child, confessing, 
explaining away, some grievous fault hardly to be 
forgiven. 'I was agonised by the thought that I was 
not my own I and my child were Christ's. Could I 
risk what was His? Other men and women had died, 
had given up all for His sake. Is there no one now 
strong enough to suffer torment, to kill even love it- 
self rather than deny Him rather than crucify Him 
afresh?' 

She paused, struggling for breath. The terrible 
excitement of that bygone moment had seized upon 
her again and communicated itself to him. 

'And then and then/ she said, sobbing, 'I don't 
know how it was. One moment I was sitting up look- 
ing straight before me, without a tear, thinking of 
[ 139 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

what was the least I must do, even even if you 
and I stayed together of all the hard compacts and 
conditions I must make judging you all the while 
from a long, long distance, and feeling as though I had 
buried the old self sacrificed the old heart for 
ever ! And the next I was lying on the ground crying 
for you, Robert, crying for you ! Your face had come 
back to me as you lay there in the early morning light. 
I thought how I had kissed you how pale and grey 
and thin you looked. Oh, how I loathed myself ! That 
I should think it could be God's will that I should leave 
you, or torture you, my poor husband ! I had not only 
been wicked towards you I had offended Christ. I 
could think of nothing as I lay there again and 
again but "Little children, love one another; little 
children, love one another." Oh, my beloved/ -- arid 
she looked up with the solemnest, tenderest smile 
breaking on the marred tear-stained face, ' I will 
never give up hope, I will pray for you night and day. 
God will bring you back. You cannot lose yourself so. 
No, no! His grace is stronger than our wills. But I 
will not preach to you I will not persecute you - 
I will only live beside you in your heart and love 
you always. Oh, how could I how could I have such 
thoughts!' 

And again she broke off, weeping, as if to the tender 
torn heart the only crime that could not be forgiven 
was its own offence against love. As for him he was 
beyond speech. If he had ever lost his vision of God, 
his wife's love would that moment have given it back 
to him. 

'Robert/ she said presently, urged on by the sacred 
[ 140 ] 



CRISIS 

yearning to heal, to atone, ' I will not complain I 
will not ask you to wait. I take your word for it that 
it is best not, that it would do no good. The only hope 
is in time and prayer. I must suffer, dear, I must be 
weak sometimes ; but oh, I am so sorry for you ! Kiss 
me, forgive me, Robert; I will be your faithful wife 
unto our lives' end/ 

He kissed her, and in that kiss, so sad, so pitiful, so 
clinging, their new life was born. 



CHAPTER XXX 

-DUT the problem of these two lives was not solved 
by a burst of feeling. Without that determining im- 
pulse of love and pity in Catherine's heart the salva- 
tion of an exquisite bond might indeed have been 
impossible. But in spite of it the laws of character had 
still to work themselves inexorably out on either side. 

The whole gist of the matter for Elsmere lay really 
in this question: Hidden in Catherine's nature, was 
there, or was there not, the true stuff of fanaticism? 
Madame Guyon left her infant children to the mercies 
of chance, while she followed the voice of God to the 
holy war with heresy. Under similar conditions Cathe- 
rine Elsmere might have planned the same. Could she 
ever have carried it out? 

And yet the question is still ill stated. For the in- 
fluences of our modern time on religious action are so 
blunting and dulling, because in truth the religious 
motive itself is being constantly modified, whether the 
religious person knows it or not. Is it possible now for 
a good woman with a heart, in Catherine Elsmere's 
position, to maintain herself against love, and all those 
subtle forces to which such a change as Elsmere 's opens 
the house-doors, without .either hardening, or greatly 
yielding? Let Catherine's further story give some sort 
of an answer. 

Poor soul ! As they sat together in the study, after 
he had brought her home, Robert, with averted eyes. 



CRISIS 

went through the plans he had already thought into 
shape. Catherine listened, saying almost nothing. But 
never, never had she loved this life of theirs so well as 
now that she was called on, at barely a week's notice, 
to give it up for ever ! For Robert's scheme, in which 
her reason fully acquiesced, was to keep to their plan of 
going to Switzerland, he having first, of course, settled 
all things with the bishop, and having placed his living 
in the hands of Mowbray Elsmere. When they left the 
rectory, in a week or ten days' time, he proposed, in 
fact, his voice almost inaudible as he did so, that 
Catherine should leave it for good. 

'Everybody had better suppose,' he said, choking, 
'that we are coming back. Of course we need say 
nothing. Armitstead will be here for next week 
certainly. Then afterwards I can come down and 
manage everything. I shall get it over in a day if 
I can, and see nobody. I cannot say good-bye, nor 
can you.' 

'And next Sunday, Robert?' she asked him, after a 
pause. 

' I shall write to Armitstead this afternoon and ask 
him, if he possibly can, to come to-morrow afternoon, 
instead of Monday, and take the service.' 

Catherine's hands clasped each other still more 
closely. So then she had heard her husband's voice for 
the last time in the public ministry of the Church, in 
prayer, in exhortation, in benediction ! One of the most 
sacred traditions of her life was struck from her at a 
blow. 

It was long before either of them spoke again. Then 
she ventured another question. 
[ 143 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'And have you any idea of what we shall do next, 
Robert of of our future?' 

'Shall we try London for a little?' he answered in a 
queer strained voice, leaning against the window, and 
looking out, that he might not see her. ' I should find 
work among the poor so would you and I could 
go on with my book. And your mother and sister will 
probably be there part of the winter/ 

She acquiesced silently. How mean and shrunken 
a future it seemed to them both, beside the wide and 
honourable range of his clergyman's life as he and she 
had developed it. But she did not dwell long on that. 
Her thoughts were suddenly invaded by the memory 
of a cottage tragedy in which she had recently taken 
a prominent part. A girl, a child of fifteen, from one 
of the crowded Mile End hovels, had gone at Christmas 
to a distant farm as servant, and come back a month 
ago, ruined, the victim of an outrage over which Els- 
mere had ground his teeth in fierce and helpless anger. 
Catherine had found her a shelter, and was to see her 
through her 'trouble'; the girl, a frail, half-witted 
creature, who could find no words even to bewail her- 
self, clinging to her the while with the dumbest, piti- 
fulest tenacity. 

How could she leave that girl? It was as if all the 
fibres of life were being violently wrenched from all 
their natural connexions. 

'Robert!' she cried at last, with a start. 'Had you 
forgotten the Institute to-morrow?' 

'No no,' he said, with the saddest smile. 'No, I 
had not forgotten it. Don't go, Catherine don't go. 
I must. But why should you go through it?' 
[ 144 ] 



CRISIS 

'But there are all those flags and wreaths/ she said, 
getting up in pained bewilderment. 'I must go and 
look after them/ 

He caught her in his arms. 

' Oh, my wife, my wife, forgive me ! ' It was a groan 
of misery. She put up her hands and pressed his hair 
back from his temples. 

' I love you, Robert/ she said simply, her face colour- 
less, but perfectly calm. 

Half an hour later, after he had worked through 
some letters, he went into the workroom and found her 
surrounded with flags, and a vast litter of paper roses 
and evergreens, which she and the new agent's daugh- 
ters who had come up to help her were putting to- 
gether for the decorations of the morrow. Mary was 
tottering from chair to chair in high glee, a big pink 
rose stuck in the belt of her pinafore. His pale wife, 
trying to smile and talk as usual, her lap full of ever- 
greens, and her politeness exercised by the chatter of 
the two Miss Batesons, seemed to Robert one of the 
most pitiful spectacles he had ever seen. He fled from 
it out into the village driven by a restless longing for 
change and movement. 

Here he found a large gathering round the new In- 
stitute. There were carpenters at work on a triumphal 
arch in front, and close by, an admiring circle of 
children and old men, huddling in the shade of a 
great chestnut. 

Elsmere spent an hour in the building, helping and 

superintending, stabbed every now and then by the 

unsuspecting friendliness of those about him, or 

worried by their blunt comments on his looks. He 

[ 145 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

could not bear more than a glance into the new rooms 
apportioned to the Naturalists' Club. There against 
the wall stood the new glass cases he had wrung out 
of the squire, with various new collections lying near, 
ready to be arranged and unpacked when time allowed. 
The old collections stood out bravely in the added 
space and light; the walls were hung here and there 
with a wonderful set of geographical pictures he had 
carried off from a London exhibition, and fed his boys 
on for weeks ; the floors were freshly matted ; the new 
pine fittings gave out their pleasant cleanly scent ; the 
white paint of doors and windows shone in the August 
sun. The building had been given by the squire. The 
fittings and furniture had been mainly of his providing. 
What uses he had planned for it all ! only to see the 
fruits of two years' effort out of doors, and personal 
frugality at home, handed over to some possibly un- 
sympathetic stranger. The heart beat painfully against 
the iron bars of fate, rebelling against the power of a 
mental process so to affect a man's whole practical and 
social life! 

He went out at last by the back of the Institute, 
where a little bit of garden, spoilt with building ma- 
terials, led down to a lane. 

At the end of the garden, beside the untidy gap in 
the hedge made by the builders' carts, he saw a man 
standing, who turned away down the lane, however, 
as soon as the rector's figure emerged into view. 

Robert had recognised the slouching gait and un- 
wieldy form of Henslowe. There were at this moment 
all kinds of gruesome stories afloat in the village about 
the ex-agent. It was said that he was breaking up fast ; 
[ 146 ] 



CRISIS 

it was known that he was extensively in debt; and the 
village shopkeepers had already held an agitated meet- 
ing or two, to decide upon the best mode of getting 
their money out of him, and upon a joint plan of 
cautious action towards his custom in future. The 
man, indeed, was sinking deeper and deeper into a pit 
of sordid misery, maintaining all the while a snarling 
exasperating front to the world, which was rapidly 
converting the careless half -malicious pity wherewith 
the village had till now surveyed his fall into that more 
active species of baiting which the human animal is 
never very loth to try upon the limping specimens of 
his race. 

Henslowe stopped and turned as he heard the steps 
behind him. Six months' self-murdering had left 
ghastly traces. He was many degrees nearer the brute 
than he had been even when Robert made his inef- 
fectual visit. But at this actual moment Robert's 
practised eye for every English parish clergyman 
becomes dismally expert in the pathology of drunken- 
ness saw that there was no fight in him. He was in 
one of the drunkard's periods of collapse shivering, 
flabby, starting at every sound, a misery to himself 
and a spectacle to others. 

'Mr. Henslowe!' cried Robert, still pursuing him, 
'may I speak to you a moment?' 

The ex-agent turned, his prominent bloodshot eyes 
glowering at the speaker. But he had to catch at his 
stick for support, or at the nervous shock of Robert's 
summons his legs would have given way under him. 

Robert came up with him and stood a second, front- 
ing the evil silence of the other, his boyish face deeply 
F 147 1 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

flushed. Perhaps the grotesqueness of that former 
scene was in his mind. Moreover, the vestry meetings 
had furnished Henslowe with periodical opportunities 
for venting his gall on the rector, and they had never 
been neglected. But he plunged on boldly. 

' I am going away next week, Mr. Henslowe ; I shall 
be away some considerable time. Before I go I should 
like to ask you whether you do not think the feud 
between us had better cease. Why will you persist in 
making an enemy of me? If I did you an injury it 
was neither wittingly nor willingly. I know you have 
been ill, and I gather that that you are in trouble. 
If I could stand between you and further mischief I 
would most gladly. If help or or money 
He paused. He shrewdly suspected, indeed, from the 
reports that reached him, that Henslowe was on the 
brink of bankruptcy. 

The rector had spoken with the utmost diffidence 
and delicacy, but Henslowe found energy in return for 
an outburst of quavering animosity, from which, how- 
ever, physical weakness had extracted all its sting. 

Til thank you to make your canting offers to some 
one else, Mr. Elsmere. When I want your advice I '11 
ask it. Good-day to you/ And he turned away with 
as much of an attempt at dignity as his shaking limbs 
would allow of. 

'Listen, Mr. Henslowe/ said Robert firmly, walking 
beside him; 'you know. I know that if this goes 
on, in a year's time you will be in your grave, and your 
poor wife and children struggling to keep themselves 
from the workhouse. You may think that I have no 
right to preach to you that you are the older man 



CRISIS 

that it is an intrusion. But what is the good of blink- 
ing facts that you must know all the world knows? 
Come, now, Mr. Henslowe, let us behave for a moment 
as though this were our last meeting. Who knows? 
the chances of life are many. Lay down your grudge 
against me, and let me speak to you as one struggling 
human being to another. The fact that you have, as 
you say, become less prosperous, in some sort through 
me, seems to give me a right to make it a duty for 
me, if you will to help you if I can. Let me send a 
good doctor to see you. Let me implore you as a last 
chance to put yourself into his hands, and to obey him, 
and your wife; and let me/ --the rector hesitated, - 
'let me make things pecuniarily easier for Mrs. 
Henslowe till you have pulled yourself out of the 
hole in which, by common report at least, you are 
now/ 

Henslowe stared at him, divided between anger 
caused by the sore stirring of his old self-importance, 
and a tumultuous flood of self-pity, roused irresistibly 
in him by Robert's piercing frankness, and aided by 
his own more or less maudlin condition. The latter 
sensation quickly undermined the former; he turned 
his back on the rector and leant over the railings of 
the lane, shaken by something it is hardly worth while 
to dignify by the name of emotion. Robert stood by, 
a pale embodiment of mingled judgement and compas- 
sion. He gave the man a few moments to recover him- 
self, and then, as Henslowe turned round again, he 
silently and appealingly held out his hand the hand 
of the good man, which it was an honour for such as 
Henslowe to touch. Constrained by the moral force 
[ 149 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

radiating from his look, the other took it with a kind 
of helpless sullenness. 

Then, seizing at once on the slight concession, with 
that complete lack of inconvenient self -consciousness, 
or hindering indecision, which was one of the chief 
causes of his effect on men and women, Robert began 
to sound the broken repulsive creature as to his affairs. 
Bit by bit, compelled by a will and nervous strength 
far superior to his own, Henslowe was led into abrupt 
and blurted confidences which surprised no one so 
much as himself: Robert's quick sense possessed itself 
of point after point, seeing presently ways of escape 
and relief which the besotted brain beside him had 
been quite incapable of devising for itself. They walked 
on into the open country, and what with the discipline 
of the rector's presence, the sobering effect wrought by 
the shock to pride and habit, and the unwonted brain 
exercise of the conversation, the demon in Henslowe 
had been for the moment most strangely tamed after 
half an hour's talk. Actually some reminiscences of 
his old ways of speech and thought, the ways of the 
once prosperous and self-reliant man of business, had 
reappeared in him before the end of it, called out by 
the subtle influence of a manner which always at- 
tracted to the surface whatever decent element there 
might be left in a man, and then instantly gave it a 
recognition which was more redeeming than either 
counsel or denunciation. 

By the time they parted Robert had arranged with 

his old enemy that he should become his surety with 

a rich cousin in Churton, who, always supposing there 

were no risk in the matter, and that benevolence ran 

[ 150 ] 



CRISIS 

on all-fours with security of investment, was prepared 
to shield the credit of the family by the advance of a 
sufficient sum of money to rescue the ex-agent from 
his most pressing difficulties. He had also wrung from 
him the promise to see a specialist in London Rob- 
ert writing that evening to make the appointment. 

How had it been done? Neither Robert nor Hens- 
lowe ever quite knew. Henslowe walked home in a 
bewilderment which for once had nothing to do with 
brandy, but Was simply the result of a moral shock 
acting on what was still human in the man's debased 
consciousness, just as electricity acts on the bodily 
frame. 

Robert, on the other hand, saw him depart with a 
singular lightening of mood. What he seemed to have 
achieved might turn out to be the merest moonshine. 
At any rate, the incident had appeased in him a kind of 
spiritual hunger the hunger to escape a while from 
that incessant process of destructive analysis with 
which the mind was still beset, into some use of energy, 
more positive, human, and beneficent. 

The following day was one long trial of endurance 
for Elsmere and for Catherine. She pleaded to go, 
promising quietly to keep out of his sight, and they 
started together a miserable pair. 

Crowds, heat, decorations, the grandees on the plat- 
form, and conspicuous among them the squire's slouch- 
ing frame and striking head, side by side with a white 
and radiant Lady Helen the outer success, the inner 
revolt and pain and the constant seeking of his 
truant eyes for a face that hid itself as much as possible 
in dark corners, but was in truth the one thing sharply 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

present to him these were the sort of impressions 
that remained with Elsmere afterwards of this last 
meeting with his people. 

He had made a speech, of which he never could re- 
member a word. As he sat down, there had been a 
slight flutter of surprise in the sympathetic looks of 
those about him, as though the tone of it had been 
somewhat unexpected and disproportionate to the 
occasion. Had he betrayed himself in any way? He 
looked for Catherine, but she was nowhere to be seen. 
Only in his search he caught the squire's ironical glance, 
and wondered with quick shame what sort of nonsense 
he had been talking. 

Then a neighbouring clergyman, who had been his 
warm supporter and admirer from the beginning, 
sprang up and made a rambling panegyric on him and 
on his work, which Elsmere writhed under. His work ! 
absurdity! What could be done in two years? He saw 
it all as the merest nothing, a ragged beginning which 
might do more harm than good. 

But the cheering was incessant, the popular feeling 
intense. There was old Milsom waving a feeble arm ; 
John Allwood, gaunt, but radiant; Mary Sharland, 
white still as the ribbons on her bonnet, egging on her 
flushed and cheering husband ; and the club boys grin- 
ning and shouting, partly for love of Elsmere, mostly 
because to the young human animal mere noise is 
heaven. In front was an -old hedger and ditcher, who 
came round the parish periodically, and never failed to 
take Elsmere's opinion 1 as to 'a bit of prapperty' he 
and two other brothers as ancient as himself had been 
quarrelling over for twenty years, and were likely to 
[ 152 ] 



CRISIS 

go on quarrelling over, till all three litigants had closed 
their eyes on a mortal scene which had afforded them 
on the whole vast entertainment, though little pelf. 
Next him was a bowed and twisted old tramp who had 
been shepherd in the district in his youth, had then 
gone through the Crimea and the Mutiny, and was now 
living about the commons, welcome to feed here and 
sleep there for the sake of his stories and his queer in- 
nocuous wit. Robert had had many a gay argumenta- 
tive walk with him, and he and his companion had 
tramped miles to see the function, to rattle their sticks 
on the floor in Elsmere's honour, and satiate their 
curious gaze on the squire. 

When all was over, Elsmere, with his wife on his 
arm, mounted the hill to the rectory, leaving the green 
behind them still crowded with folk. Once inside the 
shelter of their own trees, husband and wife turned 
instinctively and caught each other's hands. A low 
groan broke from Elsmere's lips; Catherine looked at 
him one moment, then fell weeping on his breast. The 
first chapter of their common life was closed. 

One thing more, however, of a private nature, re- 
mained for Elsmere to do. Late in the afternoon he 
walked over to the Hall. 

He found the squire in the inner library, among his 
German books, his pipe in his mouth, his old smoking- 
coat and slippers bearing witness to the rapidity and 
joy with which he had shut the world out again after 
the futilities of the morning. His mood was more ac- 
cessible than Elsmere had yet found it since his return. 

'Well, have you done with all those tomfooleries, 

[ 153 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Elsmere? Precious eloquent speech you made! When 
I see you and people like you throwing yourselves at 
the heads of the people, I always think of Scaliger's 
remark about the Basques: "They say they under- 
stand one another I don't believe a word of it!" All 
that the lower class wants to understand, at any rate, 
is the shortest way to the pockets of you and me ; all 
that you and I need understand, according to me, is 
how to keep 'em off ! There you have the sum and sub- 
stance of my political philosophy/ 

'You remind me/ said Robert drily, sitting down on 
one of the library stools, 'of some of those sentiments 
you expressed so forcibly on the first evening of our 
acquaintance/ 

The squire received the shaft with equanimity. 

'I was not amiable, I remember, on that occasion/ 
he said coolly, his thin, old man's fingers moving the 
while among the shelves of books, 'nor on several sub- 
sequent ones. I had been made a fool of, and you were 
not particularly adroit. But of course you won't ac- 
knowledge it. Who ever yet got a parson to confess 
himself!' 

'Strangely enough, Mr. Wendover/ said Robert, fix- 
ing him with a pair of deliberate feverish eyes, ' I am 
here at this moment for that very purpose/ 

' Go on, ' said the squire, turning, however, to meet 
the rector's look, his gold spectacles falling forward 
over his long hooked nose, his attitude one of sudden 
attention. 'Go on/ 

All his grievances against Elsmere returned to him. 
He stood aggressively waiting. 

Robert paused a moment, and then said abruptly, 
[ 154 ] 



CRISIS 

'Perhaps even you will agree, Mr. Wendover, that 
I had some reason for sentiment this morning. Unless 
I read the lessons to-morrow, which is possible, to-day 
has been my last public appearance as rector of this 
parish ! ' 

The squire looked at him dumbfoundered. 

'And your reasons?' he said, with quick imperative- 
ness. 

Robert gave them. He admitted, as plainly and 
bluntly as he had done to Grey, the squire's own part 
in the matter; but here a note of antagonism, almost 
of defiance, crept even into his confession of wide and 
illimitable defeat. He was there, so to speak, to hand 
over his sword. But to the squire, his surrender had all 
the pride of victory. 

'Why should you give up your living?' asked the 
squire after several minutes' complete silence. 

He too had sat down, and was now bending forward, 
his sharp small eyes peering at his companion. 

'Simply because I prefer to feel myself an honest 
man. However, I have not acted without advice. 
Grey of St. Anselm's you know him of course was 
a very close personal friend of mine at Oxford. I have 
been to see him, and we agreed it was the only thing 
to do/ 

'Oh, Grey/ exclaimed the squire, with a movement 
of impatience. 'Grey of course wanted you to set up 
a church of your own, or to join his! He is like all 
idealists, he has the usual foolish contempt for the 
compromise of institutions.' 

'Not at all,' said Robert calmly, 'you are mistaken; 
he has the most sacred respect for institutions. He 
[ 155 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

only thinks it well, and I agree with him, that with 
regard to a man's public" profession and practice he 
should recognise that two and two make four/ 

It was clear to him from the squire's tone and man- 
ner that Mr. Wendover's instincts on the point were 
very much what he had expected, the instincts of the 
philosophical man of the world, who scorns the notion 
of taking popular beliefs seriously, whether for protest 
or for sympathy. But he was too weary to argue. The 
squire, however, rose hastily and began to walk up and 
down in a gathering storm of irritation. The triumph 
gained for his own side, the tribute to his life's work, 
were at the moment absolutely indifferent to him. 
They were effaced by something else much harder to 
analyse. Whatever it was, it drove him to throw him- 
self upon Robert's position with a perverse bewildering 
bitterness. 

' Why should you break up your life in this wanton 
way? Who, in God's name, is injured if you keep your 
living? It is the business of the thinker and the scholar 
to clear his mind of cobwebs. Granted. You have done 
it. But it is also the business of the practical man to 
live ! If I had your altruist emotional temperament, I 
should not hesitate for a moment. I should regard the 
historical expressions of an eternal tendency in men as 
wholly indifferent to me. If I understand you aright, 
you have flung away the sanctions of orthodoxy. 
There is no other in the way. Treat words as they de- 
serve. You' and the speaker laid an emphasis on 
the pronoun which for the life of him he could not help 
making sarcastic 'you will always have Gospel 
enough to preach/ 



CRISIS 

' I cannot/ Robert repeated quietly, unmoved by the 
taunt, if it was one. ' I am in a different stage, I im- 
agine, from you. Words that is to say, the specific 
Christian formulae may be indifferent to you, 
though a month or two ago I should hardly have 
guessed it; they are just now anything but indifferent 
to me/ 

The squire's brow grew darker. He took up the argu- 
ment again, more pugnaciously than ever. It was the 
strangest attempt ever made to gibe and flout a wan- 
dering sheep back into the fold. Robert's resentment 
was roused at last. The squire's temper seemed to him 
totally inexplicable, his arguments contradictory, the 
conversation useless and irritating. He got up to take 
his leave. 

'What you are about to do, Elsmere/ the squire 
wound up with saturnine emphasis, 'is a piece of cow- 
ardice! You will live bitterly to regret the haste and 
the unreason of it.' 

'There has been no haste/ exclaimed Robert, in the 
low tone of passionate emotion ; ' I have not rooted up 
the most sacred growths of life as a careless child 
devastates its garden. There are some things which 
a man only does because he must.' 

There was a pause. Robert held out his hand. The 
squire would hardly touch it. Outwardly his mood was 
one of the strangest eccentricity and anger ; and as to 
what was beneath it, Elsmere's quick divination was 
dulled by worry and fatigue. It only served him so 
far that at the door he turned back, hat in hand, and 
said, looking lingeringly the while at the solitary sombre 
figure, at the great library, with all its suggestive 
[ 157 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

and exquisite detail : ' If Monday is fine, Squire, will 
you walk?' 

The squire made no reply except by another ques- 
tion. 

'Do you still keep to your Swiss plans for next 
week?' he asked sharply. 

'Certainly. The plan, as it happens, is a godsend. 
But there/ said Robert, with a sigh, 'let me explain 
the details of this dismal business to you on Monday. 
I have hardly the courage for it now.' 

The curtain dropped behind him. Mr. Wendover 
stood a minute looking after him; then, with some 
vehement expletive or other, walked up to his writing- 
table, drew some folios that were lying on it towards 
him, with hasty maladroit movements which sent his 
papers flying over the floor, and plunged doggedly into 
work. 

He and Mrs. Darcy dined alone. After dinner the 
squire leant against the mantelpiece sipping his coffee, 
more gloomily silent than even his sister had seen him 
for weeks. And, as always happened when he became 
more difficult and morose, she became more childish. 
She was now wholly absorbed with a little electric toy 
she had just bought for Mary Elsmere, a number of 
infinitesimal little figures dancing fantastically under 
the stimulus of an electric current, generated by the 
simplest means. She hung over it absorbed, calling to 
her brother every now and then, as though by sheer 
perversity, to come and look whenever the pink or the 
blue danseuse executed a more surprising somersault 
than usual. 

[ 158 ] 



CRISIS 

He took not the smallest spoken notice of her, 
though his eyes followed her contemptuously as she 
moved from window to window with her toy in pursuit 
of the fading light. 

'Oh, Roger/ she called presently, still throwing her- 
self to this side and that, to catch new views of her pith 
puppets, 'I have got something to show you. You 
must admire them you shall ! I have been drawing 
them all day, and they are nearly done. You re- 
member what I told you once about my "imps"? I 
have seen them all my life, since I was a child in 
France with papa, and I have never been able to draw 
them till the last few weeks. They are such dears - 
such darlings ; every one will know them when he sees 
them ! There is the- Chinese imp, the low smirking 
creature, you know, that sits on the edge of your cup 
of tea; there is the flipperty-flopperty creature that 
flies out at you when you open a drawer ; there is the 
twisty-twirly person that sits jeering on the edge of 
your hat when it blows away from you; and' her 
voice dropped 'that ugly, ugly thing I always see 
waiting for me on the top of a gate. They have teased 
me all my life, and now at last I have drawn them. If 
they were to take offence to-morrow I should have 
them the beauties all safe/ 

She came towards him, her bizarre little figure sway- 
ing from side to side, her eyes glittering, her restless 
hands pulling at the lace round her blanched head and 
face. The squire, his hands behind him, looked at her 
frowning, an involuntary horror dawning on his 
dark countenance, turned abruptly, and left the 
room. 

F 159 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Mr. Wendover worked till midnight ; then, tired out, 
he turned to the bit of fire to which, in spite of the 
oppressiveness of the weather, the chilliness of age and 
nervous strain had led him to set alight. He sat there 
for long, sunk in the blackest reverie. He was the only 
living creature in the great library wing which spread 
around and above him the only waking creature in 
the whole vast pile of Murewell. The silver lamps 
shone with a steady melancholy light on the chequered 
walls of books. The silence was a silence that could be 
felt ; and the gleaming Artemis, the tortured frowning 
Medusa, were hardly stiller in their frozen calm than 
the crouching figure of the squire. 

So Elsmere was going ! In a few weeks the rectory 
would be once more tenanted by one of those nonen- 
tities the squire had either patronised or scorned all his 
life. The park, the lanes, the room in which he sits, will 
know that spare young figure, that animated voice, no 
more. The outlet which had brought so much relief 
and stimulus to his own mental powers is closed ; the 
friendship on which he had unconsciously come to de- 
pend so much is broken before it had well begun. 

All sorts of strange thwarted instincts make them- 
selves felt in the squire. The wife he had once thought 
to marry, the children he might have had, come to sit 
like ghosts with him beside the fire. He had never, like 
Augustine, 'loved to love' ; he had only loved to know. 
But none of us escapes to the last the yearnings which 
make us men. The squire becomes conscious that 
certain fibres he had thought long since dead in him 
had been all the while twining themselves silently 
round the disciple who had shown him in many re- 
[ 160 ] 



CRISIS 

spects such a filial consideration and confidence. That 
young man might have become to him the son of his 
old age, the one human being from whom, as weakness 
of mind and body break him down, even his indomit- 
able spirit might have accepted the sweetness of hu- 
man pity, the comfort of human help. 

And it is his own hand which has done most to break 
the nascent slowly-forming tie. He has bereft himself. 

With what incredible recklessness had he been acting, 
all these months ! 

It was the levity of his own proceeding which stared 
him in the face. His rough hand had closed on the deli- 
cate wings of a soul as a boy crushes the butterfly he 
pursues. As Elsmere had stood looking back at him 
from the library door, the suffering which spoke in 
every line of that changed face had stirred a sudden 
troubled remorse in Roger Wendover. It was mere 
justice that one result of that suffering should be to 
leave himself forlorn. 

He had been thinking and writing of religion, of the 
history of ideas, all his life. Had he ever yet grasped 
the meaning of religion to the religious man? God and 
faith what have these venerable ideas ever mattered 
to him personally, except as the subjects of the most 
ingenious analysis, the most delicate historical induc- 
tions? Not only sceptical to the core, but constitu- 
tionally indifferent, the squire had always found 
enough to make life amply worth living in the mere 
dissection of other men's beliefs. 

But to-night! The unexpected shock of feeling, 
mingled with the terrible sense, periodically alive in 
him, of physical doom, seems to have stripped from 
[ 161 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

the thorny soul its outer defences of mental habit. He 
sees once more the hideous spectacle of his father's 
death, his own black half-remembered moments of 
warning, the teasing horror of his sister's increasing 
weakness of brain. Life has been on the whole a bur- 
den, though there has been a certain joy no doubt in 
the fierce intellectual struggle of it. And to-night it 
seems so nearly over ! A cold prescience of death creeps 
over the squire as he sits in the lamplit silence. His 
eye seems to be actually penetrating the eternal vast- 
ness which lies about our life. He feels himself old, 
feeble, alone. The awe, the terror, which are at the root 
of all religions, have fallen even upon him at last. 

The fire burns lower, the night wears on ; outside, an 
airless, misty moonlight lies over park and field. Hark ! 
was that a sound upstairs, in one of those silent empty 
rooms? 

The squire half-rises, one hand on his chair, his 
blanched face strained, listening. Again! Is it a foot- 
step or simply a delusion of the ear? He rises, pushes 
aside the curtains into the inner library, where the 
lamps have almost burnt away, creeps up the wooden 
stair, and into the deserted upper story. 

Why was that door into the end room his father's 
room open? He had seen it closed that afternoon. 
No one had been there since. He stepped nearer. Was 
that simply a gleam of moonlight on the polished floor 
confused lines of shadow thrown by the vine out- 
side? And was that sound nothing but the stirring of 
the rising wind of dawn against the open casement 
window? Or 

'My God!' 



CRISIS 

The squire fled downstairs. He gained his chair 
again. He sat upright an instant, impressing on him- 
self, with sardonic vindictive force, some of those 
truisms as to the action of mind on body, of brain- 
process on sensation, which it had been part of his life's 
work to illustrate. The philosopher had time to realise 
a shuddering fellowship of weakness with his kind, to 
see himself as a helpless instance of an inexorable law, 
before he fell back in his chair ; a swoon, born of pitiful 
human terror terror of things unseen creeping 
over heart and brain. 



BOOK V 

ROSE 



CHAPTER XXXI 

IT was a November afternoon. London lay wrapped 
in rainy fog. The atmosphere was such as only a 
Londoner can breathe with equanimity, and the gloom 
was indescribable. 

Meanwhile, in defiance of the Inferno outside, festal 
preparations were being made in a little house on Camp- 
den Hill. Lamps were lit ; in the drawing-room chairs 
were pushed back ; the piano was open, and a violin- 
stand towered beside it ; chrysanthemums were every- 
where ; an invalid lady in a ' best cap ' occupied the sofa ; 
and two girls were flitting about, clearly making the 
last arrangements necessary for a 'musical afternoon/ 

The invalid was Mrs. Leyburn, the girls, of course, 
Rose and Agnes. Rose at last was safely settled in her 
longed-for London, and an artistic company, of the 
sort her soul loved, was coming to tea with her. 

Of Rose's summer at Burwood very little need be 
said. She was conscious that she had not borne it very 
well. She had been offhand with Mrs. Thornburgh, 
and had enjoyed one or two open skirmishes with Mrs. 
Seaton. Her whole temper had been irritating and 
irritable she was perfectly aware of it. Towards her 
sick mother, indeed, she had controlled herself; nor, 
for such a restless creature, had she made a bad nurse. 
But Agnes had endured much, and found it all the 
harder because she was so totally in the dark as to 
the whys and wherefores of her sister's moods. 
[ 167 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Rose herself would have scornfully denied that any 
whys and wherefores beyond her rooted dislike of 
Whindale existed. Since her return from Berlin, 
and especially since that moment when, as she was 
certain, Mr. Langham had avoided her and Catherine 
at the National Gallery, she had been calmly certain 
of her own heart-wholeness. Berlin had developed her 
precisely as she had desired that it might. The neces- 
sities of the Bohemian student's life had trained her to 
a new independence and shrewdness, and in her own 
opinion she was now a woman of the world judging 
all things by pure reason. 

Oh, of course, she understood him perfectly. In the 
first place, at the time of their first meeting she had 
been a mere bread-and-butter miss, the easiest of preys 
for any one who might wish to get a few hours' amuse- 
ment and distraction out of her temper and caprices. 
In the next place, even supposing he had been ever in- 
clined to fall in love with her, which her new sardonic 
fairness of mind obliged her to regard as entirely doubt- 
ful, he was a man to whom marriage was impossible. 
How could any one expect such a superfine dreamer 
to turn bread-winner for a wife and household? Im- 
agine Mr. Langham interviewed by a rate-collector or 
troubled about coals ! As to her simply she had 
misunderstood the laws of the game. It was a little 
bitter to have to confess it ; a little bitter that he should 
have seen it, and have felt reluctantly compelled to 
recall the facts to her. But, after all, most girls have 
some young follies to blush over. 

So far the little cynic would get, becoming rather 
more scarlet, however, over the process of reflexion 
[ 168 ] 



ROSE 

than was quite compatible with the ostentatious 
worldly wisdom of it. Then a sudden inward restless- 
ness would break through, and she would spend a pas- 
sionate hour pacing up and down, and hungering for 
the moment when she might avenge upon herself and 
him the week of silly friendship he had found it neces- 
sary as her elder and monitor to cut short ! 

In September came the news of Robert's resignation 
of his living. Mother and daughters sat looking at each 
other over the letter, stupefied. That this calamity, 
of all others, should have fallen on Catherine, of all 
women ! Rose said very little, and presently jumped up 
with shining excited eyes, and ran out for a walk with 
Bob, leaving Agnes to console their tearful and agitated 
mother. When she came in she went singing about the 
house as usual. Agnes, who was moved by the news 
out of all her ordinary sangfroid, was outraged by what 
seemed to her Rose's callousness. She wrote a letter to 
Catherine, which Catherine put among her treasures, so 
strangely unlike it was to the quiet indifferent Agnes 
of every day. Rose spent a morning over an attempt 
at a letter, which when it reached its destination 
only wounded Catherine by its constraint and conven- 
tion. 

And yet that same night, when the child was alone, 
suddenly some phrase of Catherine's letter recurred to 
her. She saw, as only imaginative people see, with 
every detail visualised, her sister's suffering, her sis- 
ter's struggle that was to be. She jumped into bed, 
and, stifling all sounds under the clothes, cried herself 
to sleep, which did not prevent her next morning from 
harbouring somewhere at the bottom of her, a wicked 
[ 169 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

and furtive satisfaction that Catherine might now learn 
there were more opinions in the world than one. 

As for the rest of the valley, Mrs. Leyburn soon 
passed from bewailing to a plaintive indignation with 
Robert, which was a relief to her daughters. It seemed 
to her a reflexion on 'Richard' that Robert should 
have behaved so. Church opinions had been good 
enough for 'Richard/ 'The young men seem to think, 
my dears, their fathers were all fools !' 

The vicar, good man, was sincerely distressed, but 
sincerely confident, also, that in time Elsmere would 
find his way back into the fold. In Mrs. Thornburgh's 
dismay there was a secret superstitious pang. Perhaps 
she had better not have meddled. Perhaps it was never 
well to meddle. One event bears many readings, and 
the tragedy of Catherine Elsmere 's life took shape 
in the uneasy consciousness of the vicar's spouse as 
a more or less sharp admonition against wilfulness in 
match-making. 

Of course Rose had her way as to wintering in Lon- 
don. They came up in the middle of October while 
the Elsmeres were still abroad, and settled into a small 
house in Lerwick Gardens, Campden Hill, which Cath- 
erine had secured for them on her way through town 
to the Continent. 

As soon as Mrs. Leyburn had been made comfortable, 
Rose set to work to look up her friends. She owed her 
acquaintance in London hitherto mainly to Mr. and 
Mrs. Pierson, the young barrister and his aesthetic 
wife whom she had originally met and made friends 
with in a railway-carriage. Mr. Pierson was bustling 
and shrewd ; not made of the finest clay, yet not at all 
[ 170 ] 



ROSE 

a bad fellow. His wife, the daughter of a famous Mrs. 
Leo Hunter of a bygone generation, was small, untidy, 
and in all matters of religious or political opinion 
'emancipated' to an extreme. She had also a strong 
vein of inherited social ambition, and she and her hus- 
band welcomed Rose with greater effusion than ever, 
in proportion as she was more beautiful and more in- 
disputably gifted than ever. They placed themselves 
and their house at the girl's service, partly out of gen- 
uine admiration and good-nature, partly also because 
they divined in her a profitable social appendage. 

For the Piersons, socially, were still climbing, and 
had by no means attained. Their world, so far, con- 
sisted too much of the odds and ends of most other 
worlds. They were not satisfied with it, and the friend- 
ship of the girl-violinist, whose vivacious beauty and 
artistic gift made a stir wherever she went, was a very 
welcome addition to thpir resources. They feted her 
in their own house ; they took her to the houses of other 
people; society smiled on Miss Ley burn's protectors 
more than it had ever smiled on Mr. and Mrs. Pierson 
taken alone; and meanwhile Rose, flushed, excited, 
and totally unsuspicious, thought the world a fairy- 
tale, and lived from morning till night in a perpetual 
din of music, compliments, and bravos, which seemed 
to her life indeed life at last ! 

With the beginning of November the Elsmeres re- 
turned, and about the same time Rose began to pro- 
ject tea-parties of her own, to which Mrs. Leyburn 
gave a flurried assent. When the invitations were 
written, Rose sat staring at them a little, pen in hand. 

' I wonder what Catherine will say to some of these 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

people!' she remarked in a dubious voice to Agnes. 
'Some of them are queer, I admit; but, after all, those 
two superior persons will have to get used to my friends 
sometime, and they may as well begin/ 

' You cannot expect poor Cathie to come/ said Agnes 
with sudden energy. 

Rose's eyebrows went up. Agnes resented her iron- 
ical expression, and with a word or two of quite un- 
usual sharpness got up and went. 

Rose, left alone, sprang up suddenly, and clasped 
her white fingers above her head, with a long breath. 

' Where my heart used to be there is now just a 
black cold cinder,' she remarked with sarcastic 
emphasis. ' I am sure I used to be a nice girl once, but 
it is so long ago I can't remember it ! ' 

She stayed so a minute or more ; then two tears sud- 
denly broke and fell. She dashed them angrily away, 
and sat down again to her note-writing. 

Amongst the cards she had still to fill up was one of 
which the envelope was addressed to the Hon. Hugh 
Flaxman, 90 St. James's Place. Lady Charlotte, 
though she had afterwards again left town, had been 
in Martin Street at the end of October. The Leyburns 
had lunched there, and had been introduced by her to 
her nephew, and Lady Helen's brother, Mr. Flaxman. 
The girls had found him agreeable; he had called the 
week afterwards when they were not at home; and 
Rose now carelessly sent him a card, with the inward 
reflexion that he was much too great a man to come, 
and was probably enjoying himself at country-houses, 
as every aristocrat should, in November. 

The following day the two girls made their way over 
[ 172 ] 



ROSE 

to Bedford Square, where the Elsmeres had taken a 
house in order to be near the British Museum. They 
pushed their way upstairs through a medley of packing- 
cases, and a sickening smell of paint. There was a 
sound of an opening door, and a gentleman stepped out 
of the back room, which was to be Elsmere's study, on 
to the landing. 

It was Edward Langham. He and Rose stood and 
stared at each other a moment. Then Rose in the cool- 
est, lightest voice introduced him to Agnes. Agnes, 
with one curious glance, took in her sister's defiant 
smiling ease and the stranger's embarrassment; then 
she went on to find Catherine. The two left behind 
exchanged a few banal questions and answers. Lang- 
ham had only allowed himself one look at the dazzling 
face and eyes framed in fur cap and boa. Afterwards 
he stood making a study of the ground, and answering 
her remarks in his usual stumbling fashion. What 
was it had gone out of her voice simply the soft cal- 
low sounds of first youth? And what a personage she 
had grown in these twelve months how formidably, 
consciously brilliant in look and dress and manner ! 

Yes, he was still in town settled there, indeed, for 
some time. And she was there any special day on 
which Mrs. Leyburn received visitors? He asked the 
question, of course with various hesitations and cir- 
cumlocutions. 

'Oh dear, yes! Will you come next Wednesday, 
for instance, and inspect a musical menagerie? The 
animals will go through their performances from four 
till seven. And I can answer for it that some of the 
specimens will be entirely new to you.' 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

The prospect offered could hardly have been more 
repellent to him, but he got out an acceptance some- 
how. She nodded lightly to him and passed on, and he 
went downstairs, his head in a whirl. Where had the 
crude pretty child of yester-year departed to im- 
pulsive, conceited, readily offended, easily touched, 
sensitive as to what all the world might think of her 
and her performances? The girl he had just left had 
counted all her resources, tried the edge of all her 
weapons, and knew her own place too well to ask for 
anybody else's appraisement. What beauty good 
heavens! what aplomb! The rich husband Elsmere 
talked of would hardly take much waiting for. 

So cogitating, Langham took his way westward to 
his Beaumont Street rooms. They were on the second 
floor, small, dingy, choked with books. Ordinarily he 
shut the door behind him with a sigh of content. This 
evening they seemed to him intolerably confined and 
stuffy. He thought of going out to his club and a con- 
cert, but did nothing, after all, but sit brooding over 
the fire till midnight, alternately hugging and hating 
his solitude. 

And so we return to the Wednesday following this 
unexpected meeting. 

The drawing-room at No. 27 was beginning to fill. 
Rose stood at the door receiving the guests as they 
flowed in, while Agnes in the background dispensed 
tea. She was discussing with herself the probability 
of Langham's appearance. 'Whom shall I introduce 
him to first?' she pondered, while she shook hands. 
'The poet? I see mamma is now struggling with him. 
[ 174 ] 



ROSE 

The 'cellist with the hair or the lady in Greek dress 
- or the esoteric Buddhist? What a fascinating se- 
lection ! I had really no notion we should be quite so 
curious ! ' 

'Mees Rose, they vait for you/ said a charming 
golden-bearded young German, viola in hand, bowing 
before her. He and his kind were most of them in love 
with her already, and all the more so because she knew 
so well how to keep them at a distance. 

She went off, beckoning to Agnes to take her place, 
and the quartette began. The young German aforesaid 
played the viola, while the 'cello was divinely played 
by a Hungarian, of whose outer man it need only be 
said that in wild profusion of much-tortured hair, in 
Hebraism of feature, and swarthy smoothness of cheek, 
he belonged to that type which Nature would seem to 
have already used to excess in the production of the 
Continental musician. Rose herself was violinist, and 
the instruments dashed into the opening allegro with 
a precision and an entrain that took the room by storm. 

In the middle of it, Langham pushed his way into 
the crowd round the drawing-room door. Through the 
heads about him, he could see her standing a little in 
advance of the others, her head turned to one side, 
really in the natural attitude of violin-playing, but, as 
it seemed to him, in a kind of ravishment of listening 
-cheeks flushed, eyes shining, and the right arm 
and high-curved wrist managing the bow with a 
grace born of knowledge and fine training. 

'Very much improved, eh?' said an English pro- 
fessional to a German neighbour, lifting his eyebrows 
interrogatively. 

[ 175 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

The other nodded with the business-like air of one 
who knows. 'Joachim, they say, war daruber entzuckt, 
and did his best vid her, and now D - has got her' 
naming a famous violinist 'she vill make fast 
brogress. He vill schtamp upon her treecks ! ' 

' But will she ever be more than a very clever ama- 
teur? Too pretty, eh?' And the questioner nudged his 
companion, dropping his voice. 

Langham would have given worlds to get on into the 
room, over the prostrate body of the speaker by pre- 
ference, but the laws of mass and weight had him at 
their mercy, and he was rooted to the spot. 

The other shrugged his shoulders. 'Veil, vid a 
bretty woman uberhaupt it dosn't mean business ! 
It's zoziety the dukes and the duchesses that 
ruins all the yong talents.' 

This whispered conversation went on during the 
andante. With the scherzo the two hirsute faces broke 
into broad smiles. The artist behind each woke up, 
and Langham heard no more, except guttural sounds 
of delight and quick notes of technical criticism. 

How that scherzo danced and coquetted, and how 
the presto flew as though all the winds were behind it, 
chasing its mad eddies of notes through listening space ! 
At the end, amid a wild storm of' applause, she laid 
down her violin, and, proudly smiling, her breast still 
heaving with excitement and exertion, received the 
praises of those crowding round her. The group round 
the door was precipitated forward, and Langham with 
it. She saw him in a moment. Her white brow con- 
tracted, and she gave him a quick but hardly smiling 
glance of recognition through the crowd. He thought 
[ 176 ] 



ROSE 

there was no chance of getting at her, and moved aside 
amid the general hubbub to look at a picture. 

'Mr. Langham, how do you do?' 

He turned sharply and found her beside him. She 
had come to him with malice in her heart malice 
born of smart and long smouldering pain ; but as she 
caught his look, the look of the nervous short-sighted 
scholar and recluse, as her glance swept over the deli- 
cate refinement of the face, a sudden softness quivered 
in her own. The game was so defenceless ! 

'You will find nobody here you know/ she said 
abruptly, a little under her breath. 'I am morally 
certain you never saw a single person in the room be- 
fore! Shall I introduce you?' 

'Delighted, of course. But don't disturb yourself 
about me, Miss Leyburn. I come out of my hole so 
seldom, everything amuses me but especially look- 
ing and listening.' 

'Which means,' she said, with frank audacity, 'that 
you dislike new people!' 

His eye kindled at once. ' Say rather that it means 
a preference for the people that are not new ! There is 
such a thing as concentrating one's attention. I came 
to hear you play, Miss Leyburn!' 

'Well?' 

She glanced at him from under her long lashes, one 
hand playing with the rings on the other. He thought, 
suddenly, with a sting of regret, of the confiding child 
who had flushed under his praise that Sunday evening 
at Murewell. 

'Superb !' he said, but half -mechanically. 'I had no 
notion a winter's work would have done so much for 

r 177 i 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

you. Was Berlin as stimulating as you expected? 
When I heard you had gone, I said to myself " Well, 
at least, now, there is one completely happy person in 
Europe!" ' 

'Did you? How easily we all dogmatise about each 
other!' she said scornfully. Her manner was by no 
means simple. He did not feel himself at all at ease 
with her. His very embarrassment, however, drove 
him into rashness, as often happens. 

' I thought I had enough to go upon !' he said in an- 
other tone ; and his black eyes, sparkling as though a 
film had dropped from them, supplied the reference his 
words forbore. 

She turned away from him with a perceptible draw- 
ing up of the whole figure. 

'Will you come and be introduced?' she asked him 
coldly. He bowed as coldly and followed her. Whole- 
some resentment of her manner was denied him. He 
had asked for her friendship, and had then gone away 
and forgotten her. Clearly what she meant him to see 
now was that they were strangers again. Well, she was 
amply in her right. He suspected that his allusion to 
their first talk over the fire had not been unwelcome 
to her, as an opportunity. 

And he had actually debated whether he should 
come, lest in spite of himself she might beguile him 
once more into those old lapses of will and common 
sense! Coxcomb! 

He made a few spasmodic efforts at conversation 
with the lady to whom she had introduced him, then 
awkwardly disengaged himself and went to stand in a 
corner and study his neighbours. 



ROSE 

Close to him, he found, was the poet of the party, got 
up in the most correct professional costume long 
hair, velvet coat, eye-glass and all. His extravagance, 
however, was of the most conventional type. Only his 
vanity had a touch of the sublime. Langham, who 
possessed a sort of fine-ear gift for catching conversa- 
tion, heard him saying to an open-eyed ingenue beside 
him, - 

' Oh, my literary baggage is small as yet. I have only 
done, perhaps, three things that will live/ 

' Oh, Mr. Wood ! ' said the maiden, mildly protesting 
against so much modesty. 

He smiled, thrusting his hand into the breast of the 
velvet coat. ' But then/ he said, in a tone of the purest 
candour, 'at my age I don't think Shelley had done 
more ! ' 

Langham, who, like all shy men, was liable to occa- 
sional explosions, was seized with a convulsive fit of 
coughing, and had to retire from the neighbourhood 
of the bard, who looked round him, disturbed and 
slightly frowning. 

At last he discovered a point of view in the back 
room whence he could watch the humours of the crowd 
without coming too closely in contact with them. 
What a miscellaneous collection it was ! He began to be 
irritably jealous for Rose's place in the world. She 
ought to be more adequately surrounded than this. 
What was Mrs. Leyburn what were the Elsmeres 
about? He rebelled against the thought of her living 
perpetually among her inferiors, the centre of a vulgar 
publicity, queen of the second-rate. 

It provoked him that she should be amusing herself 
[ 179 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

so well. Her laughter, every now and then, came ring- 
ing into the back room. And presently there was a 
general hubbub. Langham craned his neck forward, 
and saw a struggle going on over a roll of music, be- 
tween Rose and the long-haired, long-nosed violon- 
cellist. Evidently she did not want to play some 
particular piece, and wished to put it out of sight. 
Whereupon the Hungarian, who had been clamouring 
for it, rushed to its rescue, and there was a mock fight 
over it. At last, amid the applause of the room, Rose 
was beaten, and her conqueror, flourishing the music 
on high, executed a kind of pas seul of triumph. 

' Victoria! ' he cried. ' Now denn for de conditions of 
peace. Mees Rose, vill you kindly tune up? You are 
as moch beaten as the French at Sedan/ 

'Not a stone of my fortresses, not an inch of my 
territory ! ' said Rose, with fine emphasis, crossing her 
white wrists before her. 

The Hungarian looked at her, the wild poetic strain 
in him which was the strain of race asserting itself. 

' But if de victor bows/ he said, dropping on one knee 
before her. 'If force lay down his spoils at de feet of 
beauty?' 

The circle round them applauded hotly, the touch 
of theatricality finding immediate response. Lang- 
ham was remorselessly conscious of the man's absurd 
chevelure and ill-fitting clothes. But Rose herself had 
evidently nothing but relish for the scene. Proudly 
smiling, she held out her hand for her property, and 
as soon as she had it safe, she whisked it into the open 
drawer of a cabinet standing near, and drawing out 
the key, held it up a moment in her taper fingers, and 
[ 180 ] 



ROSE 

then, depositing it in a little velvet bag hanging at her 
girdle, she closed the snap upon it with a little vindic- 
tive wave of triumph. Every movement was graceful, 
rapid, effective. 

Half a dozen German throats broke into guttural 
protest. Amid the storm of laughter and remonstrance, 
the door suddenly opened. The fluttered parlour-maid 
mumbled a long name, and, with a port of soldierly 
uprightness, there advanced behind her a large fair- 
haired woman, followed by a gentleman, and in the 
distance by another figure. 

Rose drew back a moment astounded, one hand on 
the piano, her dress sweeping round her. An awkward 
silence fell on the chattering circle of musicians. 

'Good heavens!' said Langham to himself, 'Lady 
Charlotte Wynnstay ! ' 

'How do you do, Miss Leyburn?' said. one of the 
most piercing of voices. 'Are you surprised to see me? 
You did n't ask me perhaps you don't want me. 
But I have come, you see, partly because my nephew 
was coming/ and she pointed to the gentleman behind 
her, 'partly because I meant to punish you for not hav- 
ing come to see me last Thursday. Why did n't you? ' 

' Because we thought you were still away,' said Rose, 
who had by this time recovered her self-possession. 
' But if you meant to punish me, Lady Charlotte, you 
have done it badly. I am delighted to see you. May 
I introduce my sister? Agnes, will you find Lady Char- 
lotte Wynnstay a chair by mamma?' 

'Oh, you wish, I see, to dispose of me at once,' said 
the other imperturbably. 'What is happening? Is 
it music?' 

.[ 181 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Aunt Charlotte, that is most disingenuous on your 
part. I gave you ample warning/ 

Rose turned a smiling face towards the speaker. It 
was Mr. Flaxman, Lady Charlotte's companion. 

'You need not have drawn the picture too black, 
Mr. Flaxman. There is an escape. If Lady Charlotte 
will only let my sister take her into the next room, 
she will find herself well out of the clutches of the 
music. Oh, Robert ! Here you are at last ! Lady Char- 
lotte, you remember my brother-in-law? Robert, 
will you get Lady Charlotte some tea?' 

'I am not going to be banished/ said Mr. Flaxman, 
looking down upon her, his well-bred, slightly worn 
face aglow with animation and pleasure. 

'Then you will be deafened/ said Rose, laughing, as 
she escaped from him a moment, to arrange for a song 
from a tall formidable maiden, built after the fashion 
of Mr. Gilbert's contralto heroines, with a voice which 
bore out the ample promise of her frame. 

'Your sister is a terribly self-possessed young 
person, Mr. Elsmere/ said Lady Charlotte, as Robert 
piloted her across the room. 

'Does that imply praise or blame on your part, 
Lady Charlotte?' asked Robert, smiling. 

'Neither at present. I don't know Miss Leyburn 
well enough. I merely state a fact. No tea, Mr. Els- 
mere. I have had three teas already, and I arn not like 
the American woman who could always worry down 
another cup.' 

She was introduced to Mrs. Leyburn ; but the plaint- 
ive invalid was immediately seized with terror of her 
voice and appearance, and was infinitely grateful to 
[ 182 ] 



ROSE 

Robert for removing her as promptly as possible to a 
chair on the border of the two rooms where she could 
talk or listen as she pleased. For a few moments she 
listened to Fraulein Adelmann's veiled unmanageable 
contralto; then she turned magisterially to Robert 
standing behind her. 

'The art of singing has gone out/ she declared, 'since 
the Germans have been allowed to meddle in it. By 
the way, Mr. Elsmere, how do you manage to be here? 
Are you taking a holiday?' 

Robert looked at her with a start. 

'I have left Murewell, Lady Charlotte.' 

'Left Murewell!' she said in astonishment, turning 
round to look at him, her eye-glass in her eye. 'Why 
has Helen told me nothing about it? Have you got 
another living?' 

'No. My wife and I are settling in London. We 
only told Lady Helen of our intentions a few weeks 
ago.' 

To which it may be added that Lady Helen, touched 
and dismayed by Elsmere 's letter to her, had not been 
very eager to hand over the woes of her friends to her 
aunt's cool and irresponsible comments. 

Lady Charlotte deliberately looked at him a minute 
longer through her glass. Then she let it fall. 

' You don't mean to tell me any more, I can see, Mr. 
Elsmere. But you will allow me to be astonished?' 

'Certainly,' he said, smiling sadly, and immediately 
afterwards relapsing into silence. 

'Have you heard of the squire lately?' he asked her 
after a pause. 

'Not from him. We are excellent friends when we 
[ 183 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

meet, but he does n't consider me worth writing to. 
His sister little idiot writes to me every now and 
then. But she has not vouchsafed me a letter since 
the summer. I should say from the last accounts that 
he was breaking/ 

' He had a mysterious attack of illness just before 
I left/ said Robert gravely. 'It made one anxious/ 

'Oh, it is the old story. All the Wendovers have 
died of weak hearts or queer brains generally of 
both together. I imagine you had some experience 
of the squire's queerness at one time, Mr. Elsmere. I 
can't say you and he seemed to be on particularly good 
terms on the only occasion I ever had the pleasure of 
meeting you at Murewell/ 

She looked up at him, smiling grimly. She had a 
curiously exact memory for the unpleasant scenes of 
life. 

'Oh, you remember that unlucky evening!' said 
Robert, reddening a little. 'We soon got over that. 
We became great friends/ 

Again, however, Lady Charlotte was struck by the 
quiet melancholy of his tone. How strangely the look 
of youth which had been so attractive in him the 
year before had ebbed from the man's face from 
complexion, eyes, expression ! She stared at him, full 
of a brusque tormenting curiosity as to the how and 
why. 

' I hope there is some one among you strong enough 
to manage Miss Rose,' she said presently, with an 
abrupt change of subject. 'That little sister-in-law 
of yours is going to be the rage/ 

'Heaven forbid!' cried Robert fervently. 
[ 184 ] 



ROSE 

'Heaven will do nothing of the kind. She is twice as 
pretty as she was last year ; I am told she plays twice 
as well. She had always the sort of manner that pro- 
voked people one moment and charmed them the next. 
And, to judge by my few words with her just now, I 
should say she had developed it finely. Well, now, Mr. 
Elsmere, who is going to take care of her?' 

' I suppose we shall all have a try at it, Lady Char- 
lotte.' 

'Her mother does n't look to me a person of nerve 
enough,' said Lady Charlotte coolly. 'She is a girl cer- 
tain absolutely certain to have adventures, and 
you may as well be prepared for them.' 

'I can only trust she will disappoint your expecta- 
tions, Lady Charlotte/ said Robert, with a slightly 
sarcastic emphasis. 

' Elsmere, who is that man talking to Miss Leyburn? ' 
asked Langham as the two friends stood side by side, 
a little later, watching the spectacle. 

'A certain Mr. Flaxman, brother to a pretty little 
neighbour of ours in Surrey Lady Helen Varley - 
and nephew to Lady Charlotte. I have not seen him 
here before; but I think the girls like him.' 

' Is he the Flaxman who got the mathematical prize 
at Berlin last year?' 

' Yes, I believe so. A striking person altogether. He 
is enormously rich, Lady Helen tells me, in spite of an 
elder brother. All the money in his mother's family 
has come to him, and he is the heir to Lord Daniel's 
great Derbyshire property. Twelve years ago I used to 
hear him talked about incessantly by the Cambridge 
[ 185 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

men one met. "Citizen Flaxman" they called him, for 
his opinions' sake. He would ask his scout to dinner, 
and insist on dining with his own servants, and shaking 
hands with his friends' butlers. The scouts and the but- 
lers put an end to that, and altogether, I imagine, the 
world disappointed him. He has a story, poor fellow, 
too a young wife, who died with her first baby ten 
years ago. The world supposes him never to have got 
over it, which makes him all the more interesting. A 
distinguished face, don't you think? the good type 
of English aristocrat/ 

Langham assented. But his attention was fixed on 
the group in which Rose's bright hair was conspicuous ; 
and when Robert left him and went to amuse Mrs. Ley- 
burn, he still stood rooted to the same spot watching. 
Rose was leaning against the piano, one hand behind 
her, her whole attitude full of a young, easy, self-confi- 
dent grace. Mr. Flaxman was standing beside her, and 
they were deep in talk serious talk apparently, to 
judge by her quiet manner and the charmed attentive 
interest of his look. Occasionally, however, there was 
a sally on her part, and an answering flash of laughter 
on his ; but the stream of conversation closed immedi- 
ately over the interruption, and flowed on as evenly as 
before. 

Unconsciously Langham retreated farther and far- 
ther into the comparative darkness of the inner room. 
He felt himself singularly insignificant and out of place, 
and he made no more efforts to talk. Rose played a 
violin solo, and played it with astonishing delicacy and 
fire. When it was over Langham saw her turn from the 
applauding circle crowding in upon her and throw a 
[ 186 ] 



ROSE 

smiling interrogative look over her shoulder at Mr. 
Flaxman. Mr. Flaxman bent over her, and as he spoke 
Langham caught her flush, and the excited sparkle of 
her eyes. Was this the 'some one in the stream'? No 
doubt no doubt ! 

When the party broke up Langham found himself 
borne towards the outer room, and before he knew 
where he was going he was standing beside her. 

'Are you here still?' she said to him, startled, as he 
held out his hand. He replied by some comments on 
the music, a little lumbering and infelicitous, as all his 
small-talk was. She hardly listened, but presently she 
looked up nervously, compelled as it were by the great 
melancholy eyes above her. 

'We are not always in this turmoil, Mr. Langham. 
Perhaps some other day you will come and make 
friends with my mother?' 



CHAPTER XXXII 

-N ATURALLY, it was during their two months of au- 
tumn travel that Elsmere and Catherine first realised 
in detail what Elsmere's act was to mean to them, as 
husband and wife, in the future. Each left England 
with the most tender and heroic resolves. And no one 
who knows anything of life will need to be told that 
even for these two finely-natured people such resolves 
were infinitely easier to make than to carry out. 

' I will not preach to you I will not persecute you ! ' 
Catherine had said to her husband at the moment of 
her first shock and anguish. And she did her utmost, 
poor thing, to keep her word ! All through the in- 
numerable bitternesses which accompanied Elsmere's 
withdrawal from Murewell the letters which fol- 
lowed them, the remonstrances of public and private 
friends, the paragraphs which found their way, do 
what they would, into the newspapers the pain of 
deserting, as it seemed to her, certain poor and helpless 
folk who had been taught to look to her and Robert, 
and whose bewildered lamentations came to them 
through young Armitstead through all this she held 
her peace ; she did her best to soften Robert's grief ; she 
never once reproached him with her own. 

But at the same time the inevitable separation of 
their inmost hopes and beliefs had thrown her back on 
herself, had immensely strengthened that Puritan in- 
dependent fibre in her which her youth had developed, 
[ 188 ] 



ROSE 

and which her happy marriage had only temporarily 
masked, not weakened. Never had Catherine believed 
so strongly and intensely as now, when the husband, 
who had been the guide and inspirer of her religious 
life, had given up the old faith and practices. By vir- 
tue of a kind of nervous instinctive dread, his relax- 
ations bred increased rigidity in her. Often when she 
was alone or at night she was seized with a lonely, 
an awful sense of responsibility. Oh ! let her guard her 
faith, not only for her own sake, her child's, her Lord's, 
but for his that it might be given to her patience at 
last to lead him back. 

And the only way in which it seemed to her possible 
to guard it was to set up certain barriers of silence. 
She feared that fiery persuasive quality in Robert she 
had so often seen at work on other people. With him 
conviction was life it was the man himself, to an 
extraordinary degree. How was she to resist the press- 
ure of those new ardours with which his mind was fill- 
ing she who loved him ! except by building, at 
any rate for the time, an enclosure of silence round her 
Christian beliefs? It was in some ways a pathetic repe- 
tition of the situation between Robert and the squire 
in the early days of their friendship, but in Catherine's 
mind there was no troubling presence of new know- 
ledge conspiring from within with the forces without. 
At this moment of her life she was more passionately 
convinced than ever that the only knowledge truly 
worth having in this world was the knowledge of God's 
mercies in Christ. 

So gradually with a gentle persistency she withdrew 
certain parts of herself from Robert's ken; she avoided 
T 189 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

certain subjects, or anything that might lead to them ; 
she ignored the religious and philosophical books he 
was constantly reading ; she prayed and thought alone 

always for him, of him but still resolutely alone. 
It was impossible, however, that so great a change in 
their life could be effected without a perpetual sense of 
breaking links, a perpetual series of dumb wounds and 
griefs on both sides. There came a moment when, as 
he sat alone one evening in a pine wood above the Lake 
of Geneva, Elsmere suddenly awoke to the conviction 
that in spite of all his efforts and illusions, their relation 
to each other was altering, dwindling, impoverishing : 
the terror of that summer night at Murewell was being 
dismally justified. 

His own mind during this time was in a state of per- 
petual discovery, 'sailing the seas where there was 
never sand' --the vast shadowy seas of speculative 
thought. All his life, reserve to those nearest to him 
had been pain and grief to him. He was one of those 
people, as we know, who throw off readily; to whom 
sympathy, expansion, are indispensable; who suffer 
physically and mentally from anything cold and rigid 
beside them. And now, at every turn, in their talk, 
their reading, in many of the smallest details of their 
common existence, Elsmere began to feel the presence 
of this cold and rigid something. He was ever con- 
scious of self-defence on her side, of pained drawing 
back on his. And with every succeeding effort of his 
at self -repression, it seemed to him as though fresh 
nails were driven into the coffin of that old free habit 
of perfect confidence which had made the heaven of 
their life since they had been man and wife. 
[ 190 ] 



ROSE 

He sat on for long, through the September evening, 
pondering, wrestling. Was it simply inevitable, the 
natural result of his own act, and of her antecedents, 
to which he must submit himself, as to any mutilation 
or loss of power in the body ? The young lover and hus- 
band rebelled the believer rebelled against the 
admission. Probably if his change had left him anchor- 
less and forsaken, as it leaves many men, he would 
have been ready enough to submit, in terror lest his own 
forlornness should bring about hers. But in spite of the 
intellectual confusion, which inevitably attends any 
wholesale reconstruction of a man's platform of action, 
he had never been more sure of God, of the Divine aims 
of the world, than now; never more open than now, 
amid this exquisite Alpine world, to those passionate 
moments of religious trust which are man's eternal de- 
fiance to the iron silences about him. Originally, as we 
know, he had shrunk from the thought of change in her 
corresponding to his own ; now that his own foothold 
was strengthening, his longing for a new union was 
overpowering that old dread. The proselytising in- 
stinct may be never quite morally defensible, even as 
between husband and wife. Nevertheless, in all strong, 
convinced, and ardent souls it exists, and must be 
reckoned with. 

At last one evening he was overcome by a sudden 
impulse which neutralised for the moment his nervous 
dread of hurting her. Some little incident of their day to- 
gether was rankling, and it was borne in upon him that 
almost any violent protest on her part would have been 
preferable to this constant soft evasion of hers, which 
was gradually, imperceptibly dividing heart from heart. 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

They were in a bare attic room at the very top of 
one of the huge newly-built hotels which during the 
last twenty years have invaded all the high places of 
Switzerland. The August which had been so hot in 
England had been rainy and broken in Switzerland. 
But it had been followed by a warm and mellow Sep- 
tember, and the favourite hotels below a certain height 
were still full. When the Elsmeres arrived at Les 
Avants, this scantily furnished garret, out of which 
some servants had been hurried to make room for them, 
was all that could be found. They, however, liked it 
for its space and its view. They looked sideways from 
their windows on to the upper end of the lake, three 
thousand feet below them. Opposite, across the blue 
water, rose a grandiose rampart of mountains, the 
stage on which from morn till night the sun went 
through a long transformation scene of beauty. The 
water was marked every now and then by passing 
boats and steamers tiny specks which served to 
measure the vastness of all around them. To right 
and left, spurs of green mountains shut out alike the 
lower lake and the icy splendours of the ' Valais depths 
profound.' What made the charm of the narrow pros- 
pect was, first, the sense it produced in the spectator of 
hanging dizzily above the lake, with infinite air below 
him, and, then, the magical effects of dawn and even- 
ing, when wreaths of mist would blot out the valley and 
the lake, and leave the eye of the watcher face to face 
across the fathomless abyss with the majestic moun- 
tain mass, and its attendant retinue of clouds, as 
though they and he were alone in the universe. 

It was a peaceful September night. From the open 
[ 192 ] 



ROSE 

window beside him Robert could see a world of high 
moonlight, limited and invaded on all sides by sharp 
black masses of shade. A few rare lights glimmered on 
the spreading alp below, and every now and then a 
breath of music came to them wafted from a military 
band playing a mile or two away. They had been 
climbing most of the afternoon, and Catherine was ly- 
ing down, her brown hair loose about her, the thin oval 
of her face and clear line of brow just visible in the 
dim candlelight. 

Suddenly he stretched out his hand for his Greek 
Testament, which was always near him, though there 
had been no common reading since that bitter day of 
his confession to her. The mark still lay in the well- 
worn volume at the point reached in their last reading 
at Mure well. He opened upon it, and began the elev- 
enth chapter of St. John. 

Catherine trembled when she saw him take up the 
book. He began without preface, treating the passage 
before him in his usual way, that is to say, taking 
verse after verse in the Greek, translating and com- 
menting. She never spoke all through, and at last he 
closed the little Testament, and bent towards her, his 
look full of feeling. 

' Catherine ! can't you let me will you never let 
me tell you, now, how that story how the old things 
- affect me, from the new point of view? You always 
stop me when I try. I believe you think of me as hav- 
ing thrown it all away. Would it not comfort you, 
sometimes, if you knew that although much of the 
Gospels, this very raising of Lazarus, for instance, 
seems to me no longer true in the historical sense, still 
[ 193 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

they are always full to me of an ideal, a poetical truth? 
Lazarus may not have died and come to life, may never 
have existed ; but still to me, now as always, love for 
Jesus of Nazareth is " resurrection " and "life."' 

He spoke with the most painful diffidence, the most 
wistful tenderness. 

There was a pause. Then Catherine said, in a rigid, 
constrained voice, - 

'If the Gospels are not true in fact, as history, as 
reality, I cannot see how they are true at all, or of any 
value/ 

The next minute she rose, and, going to the little 
wooden dressing-table, she began to brush out and 
plait for the night her straight silky veil of hair. As 
she passed him Robert saw her face pale and set. 

He sat quiet another moment or two, and then he 
went towards her and took her in his arms. 

'Catherine/ he said to her, his lips trembling, 'am I 
never to speak my mind to you any more? Do you 
mean always to hold me at arm's length to refuse 
always to hear what I have to say in defence of the 
change which has cost us both so much?' 

She hesitated, trying hard to restrain herself. But 
it was of no use. She broke into tears quiet but most 
bitter tears. 

'Robert, I cannot! Oh, you must see I cannot. It 
is not because I am hard, but because I am weak. 
How can I stand up against you? I dare not I dare 
not. If you were not yourself not my husband 

Her voice dropped. Robert guessed that at the bot- 
tom of her resistance there was an intolerable fear of 
what love might do with her if she once gave it an open- 
[ 194 ] 



ROSE 

ing. He felt himself cruel, brutal, and yet an urgent 
sense of all that was at stake drove him on. 

'I would not press or worry you, God knows!' he 
said, almost piteously, kissing her forehead as she lay 
against him. ' But remember, Catherine, I cannot put 
these things aside. I once thought I could that I 
could fall back on my historical work, and leave relig- 
ious matters alone as far as criticism was concerned. 
But I cannot. They fill my mind more and more. I 
feel more and more impelled to search them out, and 
to put my conclusions about them into shape. And 
all the time thi^ is going on, are you and I to remain 
strangers to one another in all that concerns our 
truest life are we, Catherine?' 

He spoke in a low voice of intense feeling. She 
turned her face and pressed her lips to his hand. Both 
had the scene in the wood-path after her flight and 
return in their minds, and both were filled with a de- 
spairing sense of the difficulty of living, not through 
great crises, but through the detail of every day. 

' Could you not work at other things?' she whispered. 

He was silent, looking straight before him into 
the moonlit shimmer and white spectral hazes of the 
valley, his arms still round her. 

'No!' he burst out at last; 'not till I have satisfied 
myself. I feel it burning within me, like a command 
from God, to work out the problem, to make it clearer 
to myself and to others,' he added deliberately. 

Her heart sank within her. The last words called up 
before her a dismal future of controversy and publicity, 
in which at every step she would be condemning her 
husband. 

[ 195 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'And all this time, all these years, perhaps/ he went 
on before, in her perplexity, she could find words, 
' is my wife never going to let me speak freely to her? 
Arn I to act, think, judge, without her knowledge? Is 
she to know less of me than a friend, less even than the 
public for whom I write or speak?' 

It seemed intolerable to him, all the more that every 
moment they stood there together it was being im- 
pressed upon him that in fact this was what she meant, 
what she had contemplated from the beginning. 

'Robert, I cannot defend myself against you/ she 
cried, again clinging to him. ' Oh, think for me ! You 
know what I feel ; that I dare not risk what is not mine !' 

He kissed her again, and then moved away from her 
to the window. It began to be plain to him that his 
effort was merely futile, and had better not have been 
made. But his heart was very sore. 

'Do you ever ask yourself/ he said presently, look- 
ing steadily into the night 'no, I don't think you 
can, Catherine what part the reasoning faculty, that 
faculty which marks us out from the animal, was 
meant to play in life? Did God give it to us simply 
that you might trample upon it and ignore it, both in 
yourself and me?' 

She had dropped into a chair, and sat with clasped 
hands, her hair falling about her white dressing-gown, 
and framing the nobly-featured face blanched by the 
moonlight. She did not attempt a reply, but the mel- 
ancholy of an invincible resolution, which was, so to 
speak, not her own doing, but rather was like a ne- 
cessity imposed upon her from outside, breathed 
through her silence. 

[ 196 ] 



ROSE 

He turned and looked at her. She raised her arms, 
and the gesture reminded him for a moment of the 
Donatello figure in the Murewell library the same 
delicate austere beauty, the same tenderness, the same 
underlying reserve. He took her outstretched hands 
and held them against his breast. His hotly-beating 
heart told him that he was perfectly right, and that to 
accept the barriers she was setting up would impover- 
ish all their future life together. But he could not 
struggle with the woman on whom he had already in- 
flicted so severe a practical trial. Moreover, he felt 
strangely as he stood there the danger of rousing in her 
those illimitable possibilities of the religious temper, 
the dread of which had once before risen spectre-like 
in his heart. 

So once more he yielded. She rewarded him with all 
the charm, all the delightfulness, of which under the 
circumstances she was mistress. They wandered up the 
Rhone valley, through the St. Gothard, and spent a 
fortnight between Como and Lugano. During these 
days her one thought was to revive and refresh him, 
and he let her tend him, and lent himself to the va- 
rious heroic futilities by which she would try as 
part of her nursing mission to make the future look 
less empty and their distress less real. Of course under 
all this delicate give and take both suffered ; both felt 
that the promise of their marriage had failed them, and 
that they had come dismally down to a second best. 
But after all they were young, and the autumn was 
beautiful and though they hurt each other, they 
were alone together and constantly, passionately, in- 
terested in each other. Italy, too, softened all things 
[ 197 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

even Catherine's English tone and temper. As long 
as the delicious luxury of the Italian autumn, with all 
its primitive pagan suggestiveness, was still round 
them ; as long as they were still among the cities of the 
Lombard plain, that battle-ground and highway of 
nations, which roused all Robert's historical enthusi- 
asm, and set him reading, discussing, thinking, in his 
old impetuous way, about something else than minute 
problems of Christian evidence, the new-born fric- 
tion between them was necessarily reduced to a 
minimum. 

But with their return home, with their plunge into 
London life, the difficulties of the situation began to 
define themselves more sharply. In after years, one 
of Catherine's dreariest memories was the memory of 
their first instalment in the Bedford Square house. 
Robert's anxiety to make it pleasant and homelike was 
pitiful to watch. He had none of the modern passion 
for upholstery, and probably the vaguest notions of 
what was aesthetically correct. But during their fur- 
nishing days he was never tired of wandering about in 
search of pretty things a rug, a screen, an engraving 

which might brighten the rooms in which Catherine 
was to live. He would put everything in its place with 
a restless eagerness, and then Catherine would be 
called in, and would play her part bravely. She would 
smile and ask questions, and admire, and then when 
Robert had gone, she would move slowly to the win- 
dow and look out at the great mass of the British 
Museum frowning beyond the little dingy strip of 
garden, with a sick longing in her heart for the Mure- 

[ 198 ] 



ROSE 

well cornfield, the wood-path, the village, the free air- 
bathed spaces of heath and common. Oh! this huge 
London, with its unfathomable poverty and its heart- 
less wealth how it oppressed and bewildered her ! 
Its mere grime and squalor, its murky poisoned atmo- 
sphere, were a perpetual trial to the countrywoman 
brought up amid the dash of mountain streams and 
the scents of mountain pastures. She drooped phys- 
ically for a time, as did the child. 

But morally? With Catherine everything really de- 
pended on the moral state. She could have followed 
Robert to a London living with a joy and hope which 
would have completely deadened all these repulsions 
of the senses now so active in her. But without this 
inner glow, in the presence of the profound spiritual 
difference circumstance had developed between her 
and the man she loved, everything was a burden. 
Even her religion, though she clung to it with an ever- 
increasing tenacity, failed at this period to bring her 
much comfort. Every night it seemed to her that the 
day had been one long and dreary struggle to make 
something out of nothing; and in the morning the 
night, too, seemed to have been alive with conflict 
All Thy waves and Thy storms have gone over me! 

Robert guessed it all, and whatever remorseful love 
could do to soften such a strain and burden he tried to 
do. He encouraged her to find work among the poor ; 
he tried in the tenderest ways to interest her in the 
great spectacle of London life which was already, in 
spite of yearning and regret, beginning to fascinate 
and absorb himself. But their standards were now so 
different that she was constantly shrinking from what 

[ 199 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

attracted him, or painfully judging what was to him 
merely curious and interesting. He was really more 
and more oppressed by her intellectual limitations, 
though never consciously would he have allowed him- 
self to admit them, and she was more and more be- 
wildered by what constantly seemed to her a breaking 
up of principle, a relaxation of moral fibre. 

And the work among the poor was difficult. Robert 
instinctively felt that for him to offer his services in 
charitable work to the narrow Evangelical, whose 
church Catherine had joined, would have been merely 
to invite rebuff. So that even in the love and care of 
the unfortunate they were separated. For he had not 
yet found a sphere of work, and, if he had, Catherine's 
invincible impulse in these matters was always to at- 
tach herself to the authorities and powers that be. He 
could only acquiesce when she suggested applying to 
Mr. Clarendon for some charitable occupation for 
herself. 

After her letter to him, Catherine had an interview 
with the vicar at his home. She was puzzled by the 
start and sudden pause for recollection with which he 
received her name, the tone of compassion which crept 
into his talk with her, the pitying look and grasp of the 
hand with which he dismissed her. Then, as she walked 
home, it flashed upon her that she had seen a copy, 
some weeks old, of the Record lying on the good man's 
table, the very copy which contained Robert's name 
among the list of men who during the last ten years 
had thrown up the Anglican ministry. The delicate 
face flushed miserably from brow to chin. Pitied for 
being Robert's wife ! Oh, monstrous ! incredible ! 
[ 200 ] 



ROSE 

t Meanwhile Robert, man-like, in spite of all the griefs 
and sorenesses of the position, had immeasurably the 
best of it. In the first place such incessant activity of 
mind as his is in itself both tonic and narcotic. It was 
constantly generating in him fresh purposes and hopes, 
constantly deadening regret, and pushing the old 
things out of sight. He was full of many projects, lit- 
erary and social, but they were all in truth the fruits of 
one long experimental process, the passionate attempt 
of the reason to justify to itself the God in whom the 
heart believed. Abstract thought, as Mr. Grey saw, 
had had comparatively little to do with Elsmere's re- 
linquishment of the Church of England. But as soon 
as the Christian bases of faith were overthrown, that 
faith had naturally to find for itself other supports and 
attachments. For faith itself in God and a spiritual 
order had been so wrought into the nature by years 
of reverent and adoring living that nothing could 
destroy it. With Elsmere, as with all men of religious 
temperament, belief in Christianity and faith in God 
had not at the outset been a matter of reasoning at all, 
but of sympathy, feeling, association, daily experience. 
Then the intellect had broken in, and destroyed or 
transformed the belief in Christianity. But after the 
crash, faith emerged as strong as ever, only craving and 
eager to make a fresh peace, a fresh compact with the 
reason. 

Elsmere had heard Grey say long ago in one of the 
few moments of real intimacy he had enjoyed with him 
at Oxford, 'My interest in philosophy springs solely 
from the chance it offers me of knowing something 
more of God ! ' Driven by the same thirst he too threw 
[ 201 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

himself into the same quest, pushing his way labori- 
ously through the philosophical borderlands of science, 
through the ethical speculation of the day, through the 
history of man's moral and religious past. And while 
on the one hand the intellect was able to contribute an 
ever stronger support to the faith which was in the 
man, on the other the sphere in him of a patient ig- 
norance which abstains from all attempts at knowing 
what man cannot know, and substitutes trust for 
either knowledge or despair, was perpetually widening. 
'I take my stand on conscience and the moral life!' 
was the upshot of it all. ' In them I find my God ! As 
for all these various problems, ethical and scientific, 
which you press upon me, my pessimist friend, I, too, 
am bewildered; I, too, have no explanation to offer. 
But I trust and wait. In spite of them beyond 
them I have abundantly enough for faith for 
hope for action!'/ 

We may quote a passage or two from some letters of 
his written at this time to that young Armitstead who 
had taken his place at Murewell, and was still there till 
Mowbray Elsmere should appoint a new man. Armit- 
stead had been a college friend of Elsmere 's. He was 
a High Churchman of a singularly gentle and delicate 
type, and the manner in which he had received Els- 
mere's story on the day of his arrival at Murewell had 
permanently endeared him to the teller of it. At the 
same time the defection from Christianity of a man 
who at Oxford had been to him the object of much 
hero-worship, and, since Oxford, an example of pas- 
toral efficiency, had painfully affected young Armit- 
stead, and he began a correspondence with Robert 
[ 202 ] 



ROSE 

which was in many ways a relief to both. In Switzer- 
land and Italy, when his wife's gentle inexorable 
silence became too oppressive to him, Robert would 
pour himself out in letters to Armitstead, and the cor- 
respondence did not altogether cease with his return 
to London. To the squire during the same period Els- 
mere also wrote frequently, but rarely or never on 
religious matters. 

On one occasion Armitstead had been pressing the 
favourite Christian dilemma Christianity or no- 
thing. Inside Christianity, light and certainty ; outside 
it, chaos. ' If it were not for the Gospels and the Church 
I should be a Positivist to-morrow. Your Theism is a 
mere arbitrary hypothesis, at the mercy of any rival 
philosophical theory. How, regarding our position as 
precarious, you should come to regard your own as 
stable, is to me incomprehensible!' 

' What I conceive to be the vital difference between 
Theism and Christianity/ wrote Elsmere in reply, 'is 
that as an explanation of things Theism can never be 
disproved. At the worst it must always remain in the 
position of an alternative hypothesis, which the hostile 
man of science cannot destroy, though he is under no 
obligation to adopt it. Broadly speaking, it is not the 
facts which are in dispute, but the inference to be 
drawn from them. 

'Now, considering the enormous complication of the 
facts, the Theistic inference will, to put it at the lowest, 
always have its place, always command respect. The 
man of science may not adopt it, but by no advance of 
science that I, at any rate, can foresee, can it be driven 
out of the field. 

[ 203 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Christianity is in a totally different position. Its 
grounds are not philosophical but literary and histor- 
ical. It rests not upon all fact, but upon a special group 
of facts. It is, and will always remain, a great literary 
and historical problem, a question of documents and 
testimony. Hence, the Christian explanation is vulner- 
able in a way in which the Theistic explanation can 
never be vulnerable. The contention, at any rate, of 
persons in my position is : That to the man who has 
had the special training required, and in whom this 
training has not been neutralised by any overwhelm- 
ing bias of temperament, it can be as clearly demon- 
strated that the miraculous Christian story rests on a 
tissue of mistake, as it can be demonstrated that the 
Isidorian Decretals were a forgery, or the correspond- 
ence of Paul and Seneca a pious fraud, or that the 
mediaeval belief in witchcraft was the product of phys- 
ical ignorance and superstition/ 

'You say/ he wrote again, in another connexion, 
to Armitstead from Milan, *you say you think my later 
letters have been far too aggressive and positive. I, too, 
am astonished at myself. I do not know my own mood, 
it is so clear, so sharp, so combative. Is it the spectacle 
of Italy, I wonder of a country practically without 
religion the spectacle in fact of Latin Europe as a 
whole, and the practical Atheism in which it is ingulfed? 
My dear friend, the problem of the world at this mo- 
ment is how to find a religion? some great con- 
ception which shall be once more capable, as the old 
were capable, of welding societies, and keeping man's 
brutish elements in check. Surely Christianity of the 
traditional sort is failing everywhere less obviously 
[ 204 ] 



ROSE 

with us, and in Teutonic Europe generally, but egre- 
giously, notoriously, in all the Catholic countries. We 
talk complacently of the decline of Buddhism. But 
what have we to say of the decline of Christianity? 
And yet this last is infinitely more striking and more 
tragic, inasmuch as it affects a more important section 
of mankind. I, at any rate, am not one of those who 
would seek to minimise the results of this decline for 
human life, nor can I bring myself to believe that Pos- 
itivism or "evolutional morality" will ever satisfy the 
race. 

' In the period of social struggle which undeniably 
lies before us, both in the old and the new world, are 
we then to witness a war of classes, unsoftened by the 
ideal hopes, the ideal law, of faith? It looks like it. 
What does the artisan class, what does the town de- 
mocracy throughout Europe, care any longer for 
Christian checks or Christian sanctions as they have 
been taught to understand them? Superstition, in 
certain parts of rural Europe, there is in plenty, but 
wherever you get intelligence and therefore movement, 
you get at once either indifference to, or a passionate 
break with, Christianity. And consider what it means, 
what it will mean, this Atheism of the great democra- 
cies which are to be our masters ! The world has never 
seen anything like it ; such spiritual anarchy and pov- 
erty combined with such material power and resource. 
Every society Christian and non-Christian has 
always till now had its ideal, of greater or less ethical 
value, its appeal to something beyond man. Has 
Christianity brought us to this: that the Christian 
nations are to be the first in the world's history to try 
[ 205 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

the experiment of a life without faith that life 
which you and I, at any rate, are agreed in thinking a 
life worthy only of the brute? 

'Oh forgive me! These things must hurt you 
they would have hurt me in old days but they burn 
within me, and you bid me speak out. What if it be 
God Himself who is driving His painful lesson home to 
me, to you, to the world? What does it mean, this 
gradual growth of what we call infidelity, of criticism 
and science on the one hand, this gradual death of the 
old traditions on the other? Sin, you answer, the en- 
mity of the human mind against God, the momentary 
triumph of Satan. And so you acquiesce, heavy-hearted, 
in God's present defeat, looking for vengeance and 
requital hereafter. Well, I am not so ready to believe 
in man's capacity to rebel against his Maker ! Where 
you see ruin and sin, I see the urgent process of Divine 
education, God's steady ineluctable command "to put 
away childish things," the pressure of His spirit on 
ours towards new ways of worship and new forms of 
love!' 

And after a while, it was with these ' new ways of 
worship and new forms of love' that the mind began 
to be perpetually occupied. The break with the old 
things was no sooner complete than the eager soul, 
incapable then, as always, of resting in negation or 
opposition, pressed passionately forward to a new 
synthesis, not only speculative, but practical. Before 
it rose perpetually the haunting vision of another pal- 
ace of faith another church or company of the faith- 
ful, which was to become the shelter of human aspir- 
[ 206 ] 



ROSE 

ation amid the desolation and anarchy caused by the 
crashing of the old ! How many men and women must 
have gone through the same strait as itself how 
many must be watching with it through the darkness 
for the rising of a new City of God ! 

One afternoon, close upon Christmas, he found him- 
self in Parliament Square, on his way towards West- 
minster Bridge and the Embankment. The beauty of 
a sunset sky behind the Abbey arrested him, and he 
stood leaning over the railings beside the Peel statue to 
look. 

The day before he had passed the same spot with a 
German friend. His companion a man of influence 
and mark in his own country, who had been brought 
up, however, in England, and knew it well had 
stopped before the Abbey and had said to him with 
emphasis : ' I never find myself in this particular spot 
of London without a sense of emotion and reverence. 
Other people feel that in treading the Forum of Rome 
they are at the centre of human things. I am more 
thrilled by Westminster than Rome; your venerable 
Abbey is to me the symbol of a nationality to which 
the modern world owes obligations it can never repay. 
You are rooted deep in the past ; you have also a fu- 
ture of infinite expansiveness stretching before you. 
Among European nations at this moment you alone 
have freedom in the true sense, you alone have religion. 
I would give a year of life to know what you will have 
made of your freedom and your religion two hundred 
years hence!' 

As Robert recalled the words, the Abbey lay before 
him, wrapped in the bluish haze of the winter afternoon. 
[ 207 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Only the towers rose out of the mist, grey and black 
against the red bands of cloud. A pair of pigeons cir- 
cled round them, as careless and free in flight as though 
they were alone with the towers and the sunset. Below, 
the streets were full of people; the omnibuses rolled 
to and fro ; the lamps were just lit ; lines of straggling 
figures, dark in the half-light, were crossing the street 
here and there. And to all the human rush and swirl 
below, the quiet of the Abbey and the infinite red dis- 
tances of sky gave a peculiar pathos and significance. 
Robert filled his eye and sense, and then walked 
quickly away towards the Embankment. Carrying 
the poetry and grandeur of England's past with him, 
he turned his face eastward to the great new-made 
London on the other side of St. Paul's, the London of 
the democracy, of the nineteenth century, and of the 
future. He was wrestling with himself, a prey to one 
of those critical moments of life, when circumstance 
seems once more to restore to us the power of choice, 
of distributing a Yes or a No among the great solici- 
tations which meet the human spirit on its path from 
silence to silence. The thought of his friend's reverence, 
and of his own personal debt towards the country to 
whose long travail of centuries he owed all his own joys 
and faculties, was hot within him. 

' Here and here did England help me how can I help England, 

say ! ' 

Ah ! that vast chaotic London south and east of the 

great church! He already knew something of it. A 

Liberal clergyman there, settled in the very blackest, 

busiest heart of it, had already made him welcome on 

[ 208 ] 



ROS, 

Mr. Grey's introduction. He bffc gone with this good 
man on several occasions through some little fraction 
of that teeming world, now so hidden and peaceful 
between the murky river mists and the cleaner light- 
filled greys of the sky. He ha*d heard much, and pon- 
dered a good deal, the quick mind caught at once by 
the differences, some tragic, some merely curious and 
stimulating, between the monotonous life of his own 
rural folk, and the mad rush, the voracious hurry, the 
bewildering appearances and disappearances, the sud- 
den ingulfments, of working London. 

Moreover, he had spent a Sunday or two wandering 
among the East End churches. There, rather than 
among the streets and courts outside, as it had seemed 
to him, lay the tragedy of the city. Such emptiness, 
such desertion, such a hopeless breach between the 
great craving need outside and the boon offered it 
within ! Here and there, indeed, a patch of bright-col- 
oured success, as it claimed to be, where the primitive 
tendency of man towards the organised excitement of 
religious ritual, visible in all nations and civilisations, 
had been appealed to with more energy and more 
results than usual. But in general, blank failure, or 
rather obvious want of success as the devoted men 
now beating the void there were themselves the first 
to admit, with pain and patient submission to the in- 
scrutable Will of God. 

But is it not time we assured ourselves, he was al- 
ways asking, whether God is still in truth behind the 
offer man is perpetually making to his brother man on 
His behalf? He was behind it once, and it had efficacy, 
had power. But now what if all these processes of 

r 209 i 



ROBBER: ELSMERE 

so-called destruction od decay were but the mere 
workings of that Divine plastic force which is for ever 
moulding human society? What if these beautiful ven- 
erable things which had fallen from him, as from thou- 
sands of his fellows, represented, in the present stage 
of the world's history, not the props, but the hin- 
drances, of man? 

And if all these large things were true, as he believed, 
what should be the individual's part in this transition 
England? Surely, at the least, a part of plain sincerity 
of act and speech a correspondence as perfect as 
could be reached between the inner faith and the outer 
word and deed. So much, at the least, was clearly re- 
quired of him ! 

'Do not imagine,' he said to himself, as though with 
a fierce dread of possible self-delusion, 'that it is in you 
to play any great, any commanding part. Shun the 
thought of it, if it were possible ! But let me do what is 
given me to do ! Here, in this human wilderness, may 
I spend whatever of time or energy or faculty may be 
mine, in the faithful attempt to help forward the new 
House of Faith that is to be, though my utmost efforts 
should but succeed in laying some obscure stone in still 
unseen foundations ! Let me try and hand on to some 
other human soul, or souls, before I die, the truth 
which has freed, and which is now sustaining, my own 
heart. Can any man do more? Is not every man who 
feels any certainty in him whatever bound to do as 
much? What matter if the wise folk scoff, if even at 
times, and in a certain sense, one seems to one's self 
ridiculous absurdly lonely and powerless ! All great 
changes are preceded by numbers of sporadic, and as 
[ 210 ] 



ROSE 

the bystander thinks, impotent efforts. But while the 
individual effort sinks, drowned perhaps in mockery, 
the general movement quickens, gathers force we 
know not how, and - 

'While the tired wave vainly breaking, 
Seems here no painful inch to gain, 
Far back through creeks and inlets making, 
Comes silent, flooding in the main!' 

Darkness sank over the river ; all the grey and pur- 
ple distance with its dim edge of spires and domes 
against the sky, all the vague intervening blacknesses 
of street, or bridge, or railway station were starred and 
patterned with lights. The vastness, the beauty of the 
city filled him with a sense of mysterious attraction, 
and as he walked on with his face uplifted to it, it was 
as though he took his life in his hand and flung it afresh 
into the human gulf. 

'What does it matter if one's work be raw and un- 
comely ! All that lies outside the great organised tra- 
ditions of an age must always look so. Let me bear 
my witness bravely, not spending life in speech, 
but not undervaluing speech above all, not being 
ashamed or afraid of it, because other wise people may 
prefer a policy of silence. A man has but the one puny 
life, the one tiny spark of faith. Better be venture- 
some with both for God's sake, than over-cautious, 
over-thrifty. And to his own Master he standeth 
orfalleth!' 

Plans of work of all kinds, literary and practical, 

thoughts of preaching in some bare hidden room to 

men and women orphaned and stranded like himself, 

began to crowd upon him. The old clerical instinct in 

[ 211 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

him winced at some of them. Robert had nothing of 
the sectary about him by nature; he was always too 
deeply and easily affected by the great historic exist- 
ences about him. But when the Oxford man or the 
ex-official of one of the most venerable and decorous 
of societies protested, the believer, or, if you will, 
the enthusiast, put the protest by. 

And so the dream gathered substance and stayed 
with him, till at last he found himself at his own door. 
As he closed it behind him, Catherine came out into 
the pretty old hall from the dining-room. 

'Robert, have you walked all the way?' 

'Yes, I came along the Embankment. Such a beauti- 
ful evening ! ' 

He slipped his arm inside hers, and they mounted the 
stairs together. She glanced at him wistfully. She 
was perfectly aware that these months were to him 
months of incessant travail of spirit, and she caught at 
this moment the old strenuous look of eye and brow 
she knew so well. A year ago, and every thought of 
his mind had been open to her and now she her- 
self had shut them out but her heart sank within 
her. 

She turned and kissed him. He bent his head fondly 
over her. But inwardly all the ardour of his mood col- 
lapsed at the touch of her. For the protests of a world 
in arms can be withstood with joy, but the protest that 
steals into your heart, that takes love's garb and uses 
love's ways there is the difficulty ! 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

BUT Robert was some time in finding his opening, 
in realising any fraction of his dream. At first he tried 
work under the Broad Church vicar to whom Grey 
had introduced him. He undertook some rent-collect- 
ing, and some evening lectures on elementary science 
to boys and men. But after a while he began to feel 
his position false and unsatisfactory. In truth, his 
opinions were in the main identical with those of the 
vicar under whom he was acting. But Mr. Vernon was 
a Broad Churchman, belonged to the Church Reform 
movement, and thought it absolutely necessary to 
'keep things going/ and by a policy of prudent silence 
and gradual expansion from within, to save the great 
'plant' of the Establishment from falling wholesale 
into the hands of the High Churchmen. In conse- 
quence he was involved, as Robert held, in endless 
contradictions and practical falsities of speech and 
action. His large church was attended by a handful of 
some fifty to a hundred persons. Vernon could not 
preach what he did believe, and would not preach, 
more than was absolutely necessary, what he did not 
believe. He was hard-working and kind-hearted, but 
the perpetual divorce between thought and action, 
which his position made inevitable, was constantly 
blunting and weakening all he did. His whole life, 
indeed, was one long waste of power, simply for lack 
of an elementary frankness. 

[ 213 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

But if these became Robert's views as to Vernon, 
Vernon's feeling towards Elsmere after six weeks' 
acquaintance was not less decided. He was constitu- 
tionally timid, and he probably divined in his new 
helper a man of no ordinary calibre, whose influence 
might very well turn out some day to be of the 'in- 
calculably diffusive' kind. He grew uncomfortable, 
begged Elsmere to beware of any 'direct religious 
teaching/ talked in warm praise of a 'policy of omis- 
sions/ and in equally warm denunciation of 'anything 
like a policy of attack.' In short, it became plain that 
two men so much alike, and yet so different, could not 
long co-operate. 

However, just as the fact was being brought home 
to Elsmere, a friendly chance intervened. 

Hugh Flaxman, the Leyburns' new acquaintance 
and Lady Helen's brother, had been drawn to Elsmere 
at first sight ; and a meeting or two, now at Lady Char- 
lotte's, now at the Leyburns', had led both men far on 
the way to a friendship. Of Hugh Flaxman himself 
more hereafter. At present all that need be recorded 
is that it was at Mr. Flaxman's house, overlooking St. 
James's Park, Robert first met a man who was to give 
him the opening for which he was looking. 

Mr. Flaxman was fond of breakfast-parties h la Rog- 
ers, and on the first occasion when Robert could be in- 
duced to attend one of these functions, he saw opposite 
to him what he supposed to be a lad of twenty, a young 
slip of a fellow, whose sallies of fun and invincible good 
humour attracted him greatly. 

Sparkling brown eyes, full lips rich in humour and 
pugnacity, 'lockes crull as they were layde in presse/ 
[ 214 ] 



ROSE 

the same look of 'wonderly' activity too, in spite of 
his short stature and dainty make, as Chaucer lends 
his squire the type was so fresh and pleasing that 
Robert was more and more held by it, especially when 
he discovered to his bewilderment that the supposed 
stripling must be from his talk a man quite as old as 
himself, an official besides, filling what was clearly 
some important place in the world. He took his full 
share in the politics and literature started at the table, 
and presently, when conversation fell on the proposed 
municipality for London, said things to which the 
whole party listened. Robert's curiosity was aroused, 
and after breakfast he questioned his host and was 
promptly introduced to 'Mr. Murray Edwardes/ 

Whereupon it turned out that this baby-faced sage 
was filling a post, in the work of which perhaps few 
people in London could have taken so much interest as 
Robert Elsmere. 

Fifty years before, a wealthy merchant who had 
been one of the chief pillars of London Unitarianism 
had made his will and died. His great warehouses lay 
in one of the eastern riverside districts of the city, and 
in his will he endeavoured to do something according 
to his lights for the place in which he had amassed 
his money. He left a fairly large bequest wherewith to 
build and endow a Unitarian chapel and found certain 
Unitarian charities, in the heart of what was even then 
one of the densest and most poverty-stricken of Lon- 
don parishes. For a long time, however, chapel and 
charities seemed likely to rank as one of the idle freaks 
of religious wealth and nothing more. Unitarianism 
of the old sort is perhaps the most illogical creed that 
[ 215 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

exists, and certainly it has never been the creed of the 
poor. In old days it required the presence of a certain 
arid stratum of the middle classes to live and thrive at 

all. This stratum was not to be found in R , which 

rejoiced instead in the most squalid types of poverty 
and crime, types wherewith the mild shrivelled Uni- 
tarian minister had about as much power of grappling 
as a Poet Laureate with a Trafalgar Square Socialist. 

Soon after the erection of the chapel, there arose that 
shaking of the dry bones of religious England which 
we call the Tractarian Movement. For many years the 
new force left R quite undisturbed. The parish 
church droned away, the Unitarian minister preached 
decorously to empty benches, knowing nothing of the 
agitations outside. At last, however, towards the end 
of the old minister's life, a powerful church of the new 
type, staffed by friends and pupils of Pusey, rose in the 

centre of R , and the little Unitarian chapel was 

for a time more snuffed out than ever, a fate which this 
time it shared dismally with the parish church. As 
generally happened, however, in those days, the pro- 
ceedings at this new and splendid St. Wilfrid's were 
not long in stirring up the Protestantism of the British 
rough, the said Protestantism being always one of 
the finest excuses for brickbats of which the modern 
cockney is master. The parish lapsed into a state of 
private war hectic clergy heading exasperated pro- 
cessions or intoning defiant Litanies on the one side, 
mobs, rotten eggs, dead cats, and blatant Protestant 
orators on the other. 

The war went on practically for years, and while it 
was still raging the minister of the Unitarian chapel 



ROSE 

died, and the authorities concerned chose in his place 
a young fellow, the son of a Bristol minister, a Cam- 
bridge man besides, as chance would have it, of 
brilliant attainments, and unusually commended from 
many quarters, even including some Church ones of 
the Liberal kind. This curly-haired youth, as he was 
then in reality, and as to his own quaint vexation he 
went on seeming to be up to quite middle age, had the 
wit to perceive at the moment of his entry on the 
troubled scene that behind all the mere brutal oppo- 
sition to the new church, and in contrast with the sheer 
indifference of three-fourths of the district, there was 
a small party consisting of an aristocracy of the 
artisans, whose protest against the Puseyite doings 
was of a much quieter sterner sort, and amongst whom 
the uproar had mainly roused a certain crude power 
of thinking. He threw himself upon this element, 
which he rather divined than discovered, and it re- 
sponded. He preached a simple creed, drove it home 
by pure and generous living; he lectured, taught, 
brought down workers from the West End, and before 
he had been five years in harness had not only made 

himself a power in R , but was beginning to be 

heard of and watched with no small interest by many 
outsiders. 

This was the man on whom Robert had now stum- 
bled. Before they had talked twenty minutes each 
was fascinated by the other. They said good-bye to 
their host, and wandered out together into St. James's 
Park, where the trees were white with frost and an 
orange sun was struggling through the fog. Here 
Murray Edwardes poured out the whole story of his 
[ 217 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ministry to attentive ears. Robert listened eagerly. 
Unitarianism was not a familiar subject of thought to 
him. He had never dreamt of joining the Unitarians, 
and was indeed long ago convinced that in the beliefs 
of a Channing no one once fairly started on the critical 
road could rationally stop. That common thinness 
and aridity, too, of the Unitarian temper had weighed 
with him. But here, in the person of Murray Ed- 
wardes, it was as though he saw something old and 
threadbare revivified. The young man's creed, as he 
presented it, had grace, persuasiveness, even unction ; 
and there was something in his tone of mind which was 
like a fresh wind blowing over the fevered places of the 
other's heart. 

They talked long and earnestly, Edwardes describing 
his own work, and the changes creeping over the mod- 
ern Unitarian body, Elsmere saying little, asking much. 

At last the young man looked at Elsmere with eyes 
of bright decision. 

'You cannot work with the Church !' he said - - 'it 
is impossible. You will only wear yourself out in 
efforts to restrain what you could do infinitely more 
good, as things stand now, by pouring out. Come to 
us ! I will put you in the way. You shall be ham- 
pered by no pledges of any sort. Come and take the 
direction of some of my workers. We have all got our 
hands more than full. Your knowledge, your experi- 
ence, would be invaluable. There is no other opening 
like it in England just now for men of your way of 
thinking and mine. Come ! Who knows what we may 
be putting our hands to what fruit may grow from 
the smallest seed?' 

[ 218 ] 



ROSE 

The two men stopped beside the lightly frozen water. 
Robert gathered that in this soul, too, there had risen 
the same large intoxicating dream of a reorganised 
Christendom, a new wide-spreading shelter of faith for 
discouraged browbeaten man, as in his own. ' I will ! ' 
he said briefly, after a pause, his own look kindling - 
'it is the opening I have been pining for. I will give 
you all I can, and bless you for the chance/ 

That evening Robert got home late after a busy day 
full of various engagements. Mary, after some waiting 
up for 'Fader/ had just been carried protesting, red 
lips pouting, and fat legs kicking, off to bed. Catherine 
was straightening the room, which had been thrown 
into confusion by the child's romps. 

It was with an effort for he knew it would be a 
shock to her that he began to talk to her about the 
breakfast-party at Mr. Flaxman's and his talk with 
Murray Edwardes. But he had made it a rule with 
himself to tell her everything that he was doing or 
meant to do. She would not let him tell her what he 
was thinking. But as much openness as there could be 
between them, there should be. 

Catherine listened still moving about the while - 
the thin beautiful lips becoming more and more com- 
pressed. Yes, it was hard to her, very hard ; the people 
among whom she had been brought up, her father 
especially, would have held out the hand of fellowship 
to any body of Christian people, but not to the Uni- 
tarian. No real barrier of feeling divided them from 
any orthodox Dissenter, but the gulf between them 
and the Unitarian had been dug very deep by various 
[ 219 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

forces forces of thought originally, of strong habit 
and prejudice in the course of time. 

'He is going to work with them now/ she thought 
bitterly; 'soon he will be one of them perhaps a 
Unitarian minister himself/ 

And for the life of her, as he told his tale, she could 
find nothing but embarrassed monosyllables, and still 
more embarrassed silences, wherewith to answer him. 
Till at last he too fell silent, feeling once more the 
sting of a now habitual discomfort. 

Presently, however, Catherine came to sit down 
beside him. She laid her head against his knee, saying 
nothing, but gathering his hand closely in both her 
own. 

Poor woman's heart ! One moment in rebellion, the 
next a suppliant. He bent down quickly and kissed 
her. 

'Would you like/ he said presently, after both had 
sat silent a while in the firelight, 'would you care to go 
to Madame de Netteville's to-night?' 

'By all means/ said Catherine with a sort of eager- 
ness. 'It was Friday she asked us for, was n't it? We 
will be quick over dinner, and I will go and dress/ 

In that last ten minutes which Robert had spent 
with the squire in his bedroom, on the Monday after- 
noon, when they were to have walked, Mr. Wendover 
had drily recommended Elsmere to cultivate Madame 
de Netteville. He sat propped up in his chair, white, 
gaunt, and cynical, and this remark of his was almost 
the only reference he would allow to the Elsmere 
move. 

'You had better go there/ he said huskily, 'it will 
[ 220 ] 



ROSE 

do you good. She gets the first-rate people and she 
makes them talk, which Lady Charlotte can't. Too 
many fools at Lady Charlotte's; she waters the wine 
too much/ 

And he had persisted with the subject using it, 
as Elsmere thought, as a means of warding off other 
conversation. He would not ask Elsmere's plans, and 
he would not allow a word about himself. 

There had been a heart attack, old Meyrick thought, 
coupled with signs of nervous strain and excitement. 
It was the last ailment which evidently troubled the 
doctor most. But, behind the physical breakdown, 
there was to Robert's sense something else, a spiritual 
something, infinitely forlorn and piteous, which re- 
vealed itself wholly against the elder man's will, and 
filled the younger with a dumb helpless rush of sym- 
pathy. Since his departure Robert had made the keep- 
ing up of his correspondence with the squire a binding 
obligation, and he was to-night chiefly anxious to go 
to Madame de Netteville's that he might write an 
account of it to Murewell. * 

Still the squire's talk, and his own glimpse of her at 
Murewell, had made him curious to see more of the 
woman herself. The squire's ways of describing her were 
always half-approving, half-sarcastic. Robert some- 
times imagined that he himself had been at one time 
more under her spell than he cared to confess. If so, 
it must have been when she was still in Paris, the 
young English widow of a man of old French family, 
rich, fascinating, distinguished, and the centre of a 
small salon, admission to which was one of the social 
blue ribbons of Paris. 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Since the war of 1870 Madame de Netteville had 
fixed her headquarters in London, and it was to her 
house in Hans Place that the squire wrote to her 
about the Elsmeres. She owed Roger Wendover debts 
of various kinds, and she had an encouraging memory 
of the young clergyman on the terrace at Murewell. 
So she promptly left her cards, together with the in- 
timation that she was at home always on Friday 
evenings. 

'I have never seen the wife/ she meditated, as her 
delicate jewelled hand drew up the window of the 
brougham in front of the Elsmeres' lodgings. 'But 
if she is the ordinary country clergyman's spouse, the 
squire of course will have given the young man a hint/ 

But whether from oblivion, or from some instinct 
of grim humour towards Catherine, whom he had 
always vaguely disliked, the squire said not one word 
about his wife to Robert in the course of their talk 
of Madame de Netteville. 

Catherine took pains with her dress, sorely wishing 
to do Robert credit. She put on one of the gowns she 
had taken to Murewell when she married. It was black, 
simply made, and had been a favourite with both of 
them in the old surroundings. 

So they drove off to Madame de Netteville's. 
Catherine's heart was beating faster than usual as she 
mounted the twisting stairs of the luxurious little 
house. All these new social experiences were a trial 
to her. But she had the vaguest, most unsuspicious 
ideas of what she was to see in this particular house. 

A long low room was thrown open to them. Unlike 
most English rooms, it was barely though richly 
[ 222 ] 



ROSE 

furnished. A Persian carpet, of a self-coloured greyish 
blue, threw the gilt French chairs and the various 
figures sitting upon them into delicate relief. The 
walls were painted white, and had a few French 
mirrors and girandoles upon them, half a dozen fine 
French portraits, too, here and there, let into the wall 
in oval frames. The subdued light came from the 
white sides of the room, and seemed to be there solely 
for social purposes. You could hardly have read or 
written in the room, but you could see a beautiful 
woman in a beautiful dress there, and you could talk 
there, either teie-h-tete, or to the assembled company, 
to perfection, so cunningly was it all devised. 

When the Elsmeres entered, there were about a 
dozen people present ten gentlemen and two 
ladies. One of the ladies, Madame de Netteville, was 
lying back in the corner of a velvet divan placed 
against the wall, a screen between her and a splendid 
fire that threw its blaze out into the room. The other, 
a slim woman with closely curled fair hair, and a neck 
abnormally long and white, sat near her, and the 
circle of men was talking indiscriminately to both. 

As the footman announced Mr. and Mrs. Elsmere, 
there was a general stir of surprise. The men looked 
round ; Madame de Netteville half -rose with a puzzled 
look. It was more than a month since she had dropped 
her invitation. Then a flash, not altogether of pleasure, 
passed over her face, and she said a few hasty words 
to the woman near her, advancing the moment after- 
wards to give her hand to Catherine. 

'This is very kind of you, Mrs. Elsmere, to remem- 
ber me so soon. I had imagined you were hardly 
[ 223 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

settled enough yet to give me the pleasure of seeing 
you/ 

But the eyes fixed on Catherine, eyes which took in 
everything, were not cordial, for all their smile. 

Catherine, looking up at her, was overpowered by 
her excessive manner, and by the woman's look of 
conscious sarcastic strength, struggling through all 
the outer softness of beauty and exquisite dress. 

'Mr. Elsmere, you will find this room almost as hot, 
I am afraid, as that afternoon on which we met last. 
Let me introduce you to Count Wielandt Mr. 
Elsmere. Mrs. Elsmere, will you come over here, beside 
Lady Aubrey Willert/ 

Robert found himself bowing to a young diploma- 
tist, who seemed to him to look at him very much 
as he himself might have scrutinised an inhabitant 
of New Guinea. Lady Aubrey made an imperceptible 
movement of the head as Catherine was presented to 
her, and Madame de Netteville, smiling and biting 
her lip a little, fell back into her seat. 

There was a faint odour of smoke in the room. As 
Catherine sat down, a young exquisite a few yards 
from her threw the end of a cigarette into the fire 
with a little sharp decided gesture. Lady Aubrey 
also pushed away a cigarette-case which lay beside 
her hand. 

Everybody there had the air more or less of an 
habitue of the house; and when the conversation began 
again, the Elsmeres found it very hard, in spite of 
certain perfunctory efforts on the part of Madame 
de Netteville, to take any share in it. 

'Well, I believe the story about Desforets is true,' 



ROSE 

said the fair-haired young Apollo, who had thrown 
away his cigarette, lolling back in his chair. 

Catherine started, the little scene with Rose and 
Langham in the English rectory garden flashing incon- 
gruously back upon her. 

'If you get it from the Ferret, my dear Evershed,' 
said the ex-Tory minister, Lord Rupert, 'you may 
put it down as a safe lie. As for me, I believe she 
has a much shrewder eye to the main chance/ 

'What do you mean?' said the other, raising aston- 
ished eyebrows. 

'Well, it does n't pay, you know, to write yourself 
down a fiend not quite/ 

'What you think it will affect her audiences? 
Well, that is a good joke ! ' and the young man laughed 
immoderately, joined by several of the other guests. 

'I don't imagine it will make any difference to you, 
my good friend,' returned Lord Rupert imperturbably ; 
'but the British public have n't got your nerve. They 
may take it awkwardly I don't say they will - 
when a woman who has turned her own young sister 
out of doors at night, in St. Petersburg, so that ulti- 
mately as a consequence the girl dies, comes to ask 
them to clap her touching impersonations of injured 
virtue.' 

'What has one to do with an actress's private life, 
my dear Lord Rupert?' asked Madame de Netteville, 
her voice slipping with a smooth clearness into the 
conversation, her eyes darting light from under 
straight black brows. 

' What indeed ! ' said the young man who had begun 
the conversation with a disagreeable enigmatical smile, 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

stretching out his hand for another cigarette, and 
drawing it back with a look under his drooped eyelids 
- a look of cold impertinent scrutiny at Catherine 
Elsmere. 

'Ah! well I don't want to be obtrusively moral 
Heaven forbid ! But there is such a thing as de- 
stroying the illusion to such an extent that you injure 
your pocket. Desforts is doing it doing it actually 
in Paris too/ 

There was a ripple of laughter. 

'Paris and illusions mon Dieu!' groaned young 
Evershed, when he had done laughing, laying medi- 
tative hands on his knees and gazing into the fire. 

'I tell you I have seen it/ said Lord Rupert, 
waxing combative, and slapping the leg he was nurs- 
ing with emphasis. 'The last time I went to see 
Desforets in Paris the theatre was crammed, and the 
house theatrically speaking ice. They received 
her in dead silence they gave her not one single 
recall and they only gave her a clap, that I can 
remember, at those two or three points in the play 
where clap they positively must or burst. They go 
to see her but they loathe her and they let her 
know it/ 

' Bah ! ' said his opponent, ' it is only because they are 
tired of her. Her vagaries don't amuse them any 
longer they know them by heart. And by 
George! she has some pretty rivals too, now!' he 
added reflectively, 'not to speak of the Bernhardt/ 

'Well, the Parisians can be shocked/ said Count 
Wielandt in excellent English, bending forward so as 
to get a good view of his hostess. 'They are just 
[ 226 ] 



ROSE 

now especially shocked by the condition of English 
morals ! ' 

The twinkle in his eye was irresistible. The men, 
understanding his reference to the avidity with which 
certain English aristocratic scandals had been lately 
seized upon by the French papers, laughed out so 
did Lady Aubrey. Madame de Netteville contented 
herself with a smile. 

'They profess to be shocked, too, by Kenan's last 
book/ said the editor from the other side of the room. 

'Dear me!' said Lady Aubrey, with meditative 
scorn, fanning herself lightly the while, her thin but 
extraordinarily graceful head and neck thrown out 
against the golden brocade of the cushion behind her. 

'Oh! what so many of them feel in Kenan's case, 
of course/ said Madame de Netteville, 'is that every 
book he writes now gives a fresh opening to the 
enemy to blaspheme. Your eminent freethinker can't 
afford just yet, in the present state of the world, to 
make himself socially ridiculous. The cause suffers.' 

'Just my feeling/ said young Evershed calmly. 
'Though I mayn't care a rap about him personally, 
I prefer that a man on my own front bench should n't 
make a public ass of himself if he can help it not 
for his sake, of course, but for mine!' 

Robert looked at Catherine. She sat upright by 
the side of Lady Aubrey ; her face, of which the beauty 
to-night seemed lost in rigidity, pale and stiff. With 
a contraction of heart he plunged himself into the 
conversation. On his road home that evening he had 
found an important foreign telegram posted up at 
the small literary club to which he had belonged since 
[ 227 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Oxford days. He made a remark about it now to 
Count Wielandt ; and the diplomatist, turning rather 
unwillingly to face his questioner, recognised that the 
remark was a shrewd one. 

Presently the young man's frank intelligence had 
told. On his way to and from the Holy Land three 
years before Robert had seen something of the East, 
and it so happened that he remembered the name of 
Count Wielandt as one of the foreign secretaries of 
legation present at an official party given by the Eng- 
lish Ambassador at Constantinople, which he and his 
mother had attended on their return journey, in virtue 
of a family connexion with the Ambassador. All that 
he could glean from memory he made quick use of 
now, urged at first by the remorseful wish to make 
this new world into which he had brought Catherine 
less difficult than he knew it must have been during 
the last quarter of an hour. 

But after a while he found himself leading the talk 
of a section of the room, and getting excitement and 
pleasure out of the talk itself. Ever since that Eastern 
journey he had kept an eye on the subjects which had 
interested him then, reading in his rapid voracious 
way all that came across him at Murewell, especially 
in the squire's foreign newspapers and reviews, and 
storing it when read in a remarkable memory. 

Catherine, after the failure of some conversational 
attempts between her and Madame de Netteville, fell 
to watching her husband with a start of strangeness 
and surprise. She had scarcely seen him at Oxford 
among his equals; and she had very rarely been pre- 
sent at his talks with the squire. In some ways, and 
[ 228 ] 



ROSE 

owing to the instinctive reserves set up between them 
for so long, her intellectual knowledge of him was 
very imperfect. His ease, his resource, among these 
men of the world, for whom independent of all else 
-she felt a countrywoman's dislike, filled her with 
a kind of bewilderment. 

'Are you new to London?' Lady Aubrey asked her 
presently, in that tone of absolute detachment from 
the person addressed which certain women manage 
to perfection. She, too, had been watching the hus- 
band, and the sight had impressed her with a mo- 
mentary curiosity to know what the stiff, handsome, 
dowdily-dressed wife was made of. 

'We have been two months here/ said Catherine, 
her large grey eyes taking in her companion's very 
bare shoulders, the costly fantastic dress, and the dia- 
monds flashing against the white skin. 

'In what part?' 

'In Bedford Square.' 

Lady Aubrey was silent. She had no ideas on the 
subject of Bedford Square at command. 

'We are very central,' said Catherine, feeling des- 
perately that she was doing Robert no credit at all, 
and anxious to talk if only something could be found 
to talk about. 

'Oh yes, you are near the theatres,' said the other 
indifferently. 

This was hardly an aspect of the matter which had 
yet occurred to Catherine. A flash of bitterness ran 
through her. Had they left their Murewell life to be 
'near the theatres,' and kept at arm's length by super- 
cilious great ladies? 

[ 229 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'We are very far from the Park/ she answered with 
an effort. 'I wish we were n't, for my little girl's sake/ 

'Oh, you have a little girl! How old?' 

'Sixteen months/ 

'Too young to be a nuisance yet. Mine are just old 
enough to be in everybody's way. Children are out 
of place in London. I always want to leave mine in 
the country, but my husband objects/ said Lady Au- 
brey coolly. There was a certain piquancy in saying 
frank things to this stiff Madonna-faced woman. 

Madame de Netteville, meanwhile, was keeping up 
a conversation in an undertone with young Evershed, 
who had come to sit on a stool beside her, and was 
gazing up at her with eyes of which the expression was 
perfectly understood by several persons present. The 
handsome, dissipated, ill-conditioned youth had been 
her slave and shadow for the last two years. His de- 
votion now no longer amused her, and she was endeav- 
ouring to get rid of it and him. But the process was 
a difficult one, and took both time and finesse. 

She kept her eye, notwithstanding, on the new- 
comers whom the squire's introduction had brought 
to her that night. When the Elsmeres rose to go, she 
said good-bye to Catherine with an excessive polite- 
ness, under which her poor guest, conscious of her 
own gaucherie during the evening, felt the touch of 
satire she was perhaps meant to feel. But when 
Catherine was well ahead Madame de Netteville gave 
Robert one of her most brilliant smiles. 

' Friday evening, Mr. Elsmere ; always Fridays. You 
will remember?' 

The naivete of Robert's social view, and the mobility 
f 230 1 



ROSE 

of his temper, made him easily responsive. He had 
just enjoyed half an hour's brilliant talk with two or 
three of the keenest and most accomplished men in 
Europe. Catherine had slipped out of his sight mean- 
while, and the impression of their entree had been 
effaced. He made Madame de Netteville, therefore, 
a cordial smiling reply before his tall slender form 
disappeared after that of his wife. 

'Agreeable rather an acquisition!' said Madame 
de Netteville to Lady Aubrey, with a light motion of 
the head towards Robert's retreating figure. ' But the 
wife! Good heavens! I owe Roger Wendover a grudge. 
I think he might have made it plain to those good 
people that I don't want strange women at my Friday 
evenings.' 

Lady Aubrey laughed. 'No doubt she is a genius, 
or a saint, in mufti. She might be handsome too if 
some one would dress her.' 

Madame de Netteville shrugged her shoulders. ' Oh ! 
life is not long enough to penetrate that kind of per- 
son,' she said. 

Meanwhile the 'person' was driving homeward very 
sad and ill at ease. She was vexed that she had not 
done better, and yet she was wounded by Robert's en- 
joyment. The Puritan in her blood was all aflame. As 
she sat looking into the motley lamplit night, she could 
have 'testified' like any prophetess of old. 

Robert meanwhile, his hand slipped into hers, was 
thinking of Wielandt's talk, and of some racy stories 
of Berlin celebrities told by a young attache who had 
joined their group. His lips were lightly smiling, his 
brow serene. 

[ 231 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

But as he helped her down from the cab, and they 
stood in the hall together, he noticed the pale discom- 
posure of her looks. Instantly the familiar dread and 
pain returned upon him. 

'Did you like it, Catherine?' he asked her, with 
something like timidity, as they stood together by 
their bedroom fire. 

She sank into a low chair and sat a moment staring 
at the blaze. He was startled by her look of suffering, 
and, kneeling, he put his arms tenderly round her. 

' Oh, Robert, Robert ! ' she cried, falling on his neck. 

'What is it?' he asked, kissing her hair. 

'I seem all at sea/ she said in a choked voice, her 
face hidden, ' the old landmarks swallowed up ! I am 
always judging and condemning, always protest- 
ing. What am I that I should judge? But how how 
can I help it?' 

She drew herself away from him, once more looking 
into the fire with drawn brows. 

'Darling, the world is full of difference. Men and 
women take life in different ways. Don't be so sure 
yours is the only right one/ 

He spoke with a moved gentleness, taking her hand 
the while. 

' "This is the way, walk ye in it!" ' she said pre- 
sently with strong, almost stern emphasis. ' Oh, those 
women, and that talk ! Hateful ! ' 

He rose and looked down on her from the mantel- 
piece. Within him was a movement of impatience, 
repressed almost at once by the thought of that long 
night at Murewell, when he had vowed to himself to 
' make amends ' ! 

[ 232 ] 



ROSE 

And if that memory had not intervened she would 
still have disarmed him wholly. 

'Listen!' she said to him suddenly, her eyes kind- 
ling with a strange childish pleasure. ' Do you hear the. 
wind, the west wind? Do you remember how it used 
to shake the house, how it used to come sweeping 
through the trees in the wood-path ? It must be trying 
the study window now, blowing the vine against it.' 

A yearning passion breathed through every feature. 
It seemed to him she saw nothing before her. Her 
longing soul was back in the old haunts, surrounded by 
the old loved forms and sounds. It went to his heart. 
He tried to soothe her with the tenderest words re- 
morseful love could find. But the conflict of feeling 
grief, rebellion, doubt, self -judgement would not be 
soothed, and long after she had made him leave her 
and he had fallen asleep, she knelt on, a white and 
rigid figure in the dying firelight, the wind shaking the 
old house, the eternal murmur of London booming 
outside. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

MEANWHILE, as if to complete the circle of pain with 
which poor Catherine's life was compassed, it began to 
be plain to her that, in spite of the hard and mocking 
tone Rose generally adopted with regard to him, 
Edward Langham was constantly at the house in Ler- 
wick Gardens, and that it was impossible he should 
be there so much unless in some way or other Rose 
encouraged it. 

The idea of such a marriage nay, of such a friend- 
ship was naturally as repugnant as ever to her. It 
had been one of the bitterest moments of a bitter time 
when, at their first meeting after the crisis in her life, 
Langham, conscious of a sudden movement of pity for 
a woman he disliked, had pressed the hand she held 
out to him in a way which clearly showed her what was 
in his mind, and had then passed on to chat and smoke 
with Robert in the study, leaving her behind to realise 
the gulf that lay between the present and that visit of 
his to Murewell, when Robert and she had felt in uni- 
son towards him, his opinions, and his conduct to Rose, 
as towards everything else of importance in their life. 

Now it seemed to her Robert must necessarily look 
at the matter differently, and she could not make up 
her mind to talk to him about it. In reality, his ob- 
jections had never had the same basis as hers, and he 
would have given her as strong a support as ever, if 
she had asked for it. But she held her peace, and he, 
[234 ] 



ROSE 

absorbed in other things, took no notice. Besides, he 
knew Langham too well. He had never been able to 
take Catherine's alarms seriously. 

An attentive onlooker, however, would have admit- 
ted that this time, at any rate, they had their justi- 
fication. Why Langham was so much in the Leyburns' 
drawing-room during these winter months was a ques- 
tion that several people asked himself not least. He 
had not only pretended to forget Rose Leyburn during 
the eighteen months which had passed since their first 
acquaintance at Murewell he had for all practical 
purposes forgotten her. It is only a small proportion 
of men and women who are capable of passion on the 
great scale at all; and certainly, as we have tried to 
show, Langham was not among them. He had had a 
passing moment of excitement at Murewell, soon put 
down, and followed by a week of extremely pleasant 
sensations, which, like most of his pleasures, had ended 
in reaction and self -abhorrence. He had left Murewell 
remorseful, melancholy, and ill at ease, but conscious, 
certainly, of a great relief that he and Rose Leyburn 
were not likely to meet again for long. 

Then his settlement in London had absorbed him, as 
all such matters absorb men who have become the 
slaves of their own solitary habits, and in the joy of 
his new freedom, and the fresh zest for learning it had 
aroused in him, the beautiful unmanageable child who 
had disturbed his peace at Murewell was not likely to 
be more, but less, remembered. When he stumbled 
across her unexpectedly in the National Gallery, his 
determining impulse had been merely one of flight. 

However, as he had written to Robert towards the 
[ 235 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

beginning of his London residence, there was no doubt 
that his migration had made him for the time much 
more human, observant, and accessible. Oxford had 
become to him an oppression and a nightmare, and as 
soon as he had turned his back on it his mental lungs 
seemed once more to fill with air. He took his modest 
part in the life of the capital ; happy in the obscurity 
afforded him by the crowd; rejoicing in the thought 
that his life and his affairs were once more his own, 
and the academical yoke had been slipped for ever. 

It was in this mood of greater cheerfulness and en- 
ergy that his fresh sight of Rose found him. For the 
moment, he was perhaps more susceptible than he ever 
could have been before to her young perfections, her 
beauty, her brilliancy, her provoking stimulating ways. 
Certainly, from that first afternoon onwards he be- 
came more and more restless to watch her, to be near 
her, to see what she made of herself and her gifts. In 
general, though it was certainly owing to her that he 
came so much, she took small notice of him. He re- 
garded, or chose to regard, himself as a mere 'item' - 
something systematically overlooked and forgotten in 
the bustle of her days and nights. He saw that she 
thought badly of him, that the friendship he might 
have had was now proudly refused him, that their first 
week together had left a deep impression of resentment 
and hostility in her mind. And all the same he came; 
and she asked him! And sometimes, after an hour 
when she had been more difficult or more satirical than 
usual, ending notwithstanding with a little change of 
tone, a careless 'You will find us next Wednesday as 
usual; So-and-so is coming to play/ Langham would 
[ 236 ] 



ROSE 

walk home in a state of feeling he did not care to ana- 
lyse, but which certainly quickened the pace of life a 
good deal. She would not let him try his luck at friend- 
ship again, but in the strangest slightest ways did she 
not make him suspect every now and then that he was 
in some sort important to her, that he sometimes pre- 
occupied her against her will; that her will, indeed, 
sometimes escaped her, and failed to control her man- 
ner to him? 

It was not only his relations to the beauty, however, 
his interest in her career, or his perpetual conscious- 
ness of Mrs. Elsmere's cold dislike and disapproval of 
his presence in her mother's drawing-room, that ac- 
counted for Langham's heightened mental tempera- 
ture this winter. The existence and the proceedings 
of Mr. Hugh Flaxman had a very considerable share 
in it. 

'Tell me about Mr. Langham,' said Mr. Flaxman 
once to Agnes Leyburn, in the early days of his ac- 
quaintance with the family ; ' is he an old friend ? ' 

'Of Robert's/ replied Agnes, her cheerful impene- 
trable look fixed upon the speaker. 'My sister met him 
once for a week in the country at the Elsmeres'. My 
mother and I have been only just introduced to him.' 

Hugh Flaxman pondered the information a little. 

' Does he strike you as well what shall we say? 
unusual?' 

His smile struck one out of her. 

'Even Robert might admit that,' she said demurely. 

'Is Elsmere so attached to him? I own I was pro- 
voked just now by his tone about Elsmere. I was 
remarking on the evident physical and mental strain 
[ 237 1 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

your brother-in-law had gone through, and he said 
with a nonchalance I cannot convey: "Yes, it is aston- 
ishing Elsmere should have ventured it. I confess I 
often wonder whether it was worth while." "Why?" 
said I, perhaps a little hotly. Well, he did n't know - 
would n't say. But I gathered that, according to him, 
Elsmere is still swathed in such an unconscionable 
amount of religion that the few rags and patches he 
has got rid of are hardly worth the discomfort of 
the change. It seemed to me the tone of the very cool 
spectator, rather than the friend. However does 
your sister like him?' 

'I don't know,' said Agnes, looking her questioner 
full in the face. 

Hugh Flaxman's fair complexion flushed a little. 
He got up to go. 

'He is one of the most extraordinarily handsome 
persons I ever saw,' he remarked as he buttoned up his 
coat. ' Don't you think so ? ' 

'Yes/ said Agnes dubiously, 'if he did n't stoop, and 
if he did n't in general look half -asleep.' 

Hugh Flaxman departed more puzzled than ever as 
to the reason for the constant attendance of this un- 
comfortable anti-social person at the Leyburns' house. 
Being himself a man of very subtle and fastidious 
tastes, he could imagine that so original a suitor, with 
such eyes, such an intellectual reputation so well sus- 
tained by scantiness of speech and the most pictur- 
esque capacity for silence, might have attractions for 
a romantic and wilful girl. But where were the signs of 
it? Rose rarely talked to him, and was always ready 
to make him the target of a sub-acid raillery. Agnes 
[ 238 ] 



ROSE 

was clearly indifferent to him, and Mrs. Leyburn 
equally clearly afraid of him. Mrs. Elsmere, too, seemed 
to dislike him, and yet there he was, week after weeki 
Flaxman could not make it out. 

Then he tried to explore the man himself. He 
started various topics with him University reform, 
politics, music. In vain. In his most characteristic 
Oxford days Langham had never assumed a more 
wholesale ignorance of all subjects in heaven and 
earth, and never stuck more pertinaciously to the flat- 
test forms of commonplace. Flaxman walked away at 
last boiling over. The man of parts masquerading as 
the fool is perhaps at least as exasperating as the fool 
playing at wisdom. 

However, he was not the only person irritated. After 
one of these fragments of conversation Langham also 
walked rapidly home in a state of most irrational petu- 
lance, his hands thrust with energy into the pockets of 
his overcoat. 

'No, my successful aristocrat, you shall not have 
everything your own way so easily with me or with 
her! You may break me, but you shall not play upon 
me. And as for her, I will see it out I will see it out ! ' 

And he stiffened himself as he walked, feeling life 
electric all about him, and a strange new force tingling 
in every vein. 

Meanwhile, however, Mr. Flaxman was certainly 
having a good deal of his own way. Since the moment 
when his aunt, Lady Charlotte, had introduced him to 
Miss Leyburn watching him the while with a half- 
smile which soon broadened into one of sly triumph - 
Hugh Flaxman had persuaded himself that country 
[ 239 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

houses are intolerable even in the shooting season, and 
that London is the only place of residence during the 
winter for the man who aspires to govern his life on 
principles of reason. Through his influence and that of 
his aunt, Rose and Agnes Mrs. Leyburn never went 
out were being carried into all the high life that Lon- 
don can supply in November and January. Wealthy, 
high-born, and popular, he was gradually devoting his 
advantages in the freest way to Rose's service. He 
was an excellent musical amateur, and he was always 
proud to play with her; he had a fine country house, 
and the little rooms on Campden Hill were almost 
always filled with flowers from his gardens ; he had a 
famous musical library, and its treasures were lavished 
on the girl violinist ; he had a singularly wide circle of 
friends, and with his whimsical energy he was soon in- 
clined to make kindness to the two sisters the one test 
of a friend's good will. 

He was clearly touched by Rose; and what was to 
prevent his making an impression on her? To her sex 
he had always been singularly attractive. Like his 
sister, he had all sorts of bright impulses and audac- 
ities flashing and darting about him. He had a certain 
hauteur with men, and could play the aristocrat when 
he pleased, for all his philosophical radicalism. But 
with women he was the most delightful mixture of 
deference and high spirits. He loved the grace of them, 
the daintiness of their dress, the softness of their 
voices. He would have done anything to please them, 
anything to save them pain. At twenty-five, when he 
was still 'Citizen Flaxman' to his college friends, and 
in the first fervours of a poetic defiance of prejudice 
[ 240 ] 



ROSE 

and convention, he had married a gamekeeper's pretty 
daughter. She had died with her child died, almost, 
poor thing! of happiness and excitement of the 
over-greatness of Heaven's boon to her. Flaxman had 
adored her, and death had tenderly embalmed a senti- 
ment to which life might possibly have been less kind. 
Since then he had lived in music, letters, and society, 
refusing out of a certain fastidiousness to enter politics, 
but welcomed and considered, wherever he went, tall, 
good-looking, distinguished, one of the most agreeable 
and courted of men, and perhaps the richest parti in 
London. 

Still, in spite of it all, Langham held his ground - 
Langham would see it out! And indeed Flaxman 's 
footing with the beauty was by no means clear 
least of all to himself. She evidently liked him, but 
she bantered him a good deal; she would not be the 
least subdued or dazzled by his birth and wealth, or by 
those of his friends ; and if she allowed him to provide 
her with pleasures, she would hardly ever take his 
advice, or knowingly consult his tastes. 

Meanwhile she tormented them both a good deal by 
the artistic acquaintance she gathered about her. Mrs. 
Pierson's world, as we have said, contained a good 
many dubious odds and ends, and she had handed 
them all over to Rose. The Leyburns' growing inti- 
macy with Mr. Flaxman and his circle, and through 
them with the finer types of the artistic life, would 
naturally and by degrees have carried them away 
somewhat from this earlier circle if Rose would have 
allowed it. But she clung persistently to its most un- 
promising specimens, partly out of a natural generosity 
[ 241 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

of feeling, but partly also for the sake of that opposi- 
tion her soul loved, her poor prickly soul, full under 
all her gaiety and indifference of the most desperate 
doubt and soreness, opposition to Catherine, oppo- 
sition to Mr. Flaxman, but, above all, opposition to 
Langham. 

Flaxman could often avenge himself on her or 
rather on the more obnoxious members of her following 
- by dint of a faculty for light and stinging repartee 
which would send her, flushed and biting her lip, to 
have her laugh out in private. But Langham for a long 
time was defenceless. Many of her friends in his opin- 
ion were simply pathological curiosities their van- 
ity was so frenzied, their sensibilities so morbidly de- 
veloped. He felt a doctor's interest in them coupled 
with more than a doctor's scepticism as to all they had 
to say about themselves. But Rose would invite them, 
would assume a quasi-intimacy with them ; and Lang- 
ham as well as everybody else had to put up with it. 

Even the trodden worm, however- And there 
came a time when the concentration of a good many 
different lines of feeling in Langham 's mind betrayed 
itself at last in a sharp and sudden openness. It began 
to seem to him that she was specially bent often on 
tormenting him by these caprices of hers, and he vowed 
to himself finally, with an outburst of irritation due in 
reality to a hundred causes, that he would assert him- 
self, that he would make an effort at any rate to save 
her from her own follies. 

One afternoon, at a crowded musical party, to which 
he had come much against his will, and only in obedi- 
ence to a compulsion he dared not analyse, she asked 
[ 242 ] 



ROSE 

him in passing if he would kindly find Mr. MacFadden, 
a bass singer, whose name stood next on the pro- 
gramme, and who was not to be seen in the drawing- 
room. 

Langham searched the dining-room and the hall, 
and at last found Mr. MacFadden a fair, flabby, un- 
wholesome youth in the little study or cloak-room, 
in a state of collapse, flanked by whiskey-and-water, 
and attended by two frightened maids, who handed 
over their charge to Langham and fled. 

Then it appeared that the great man had been 
offended by a change in the programme, which hurt 
his vanity, had withdrawn from the drawing-room on 
the brink of hysterics, had called for spirits, which had 
been provided for him with great difficulty by Mrs. 
Leyburn's maids, and was there drinking himself into 
a state of rage and rampant dignity which would soon 
have shown itself in a melodramatic return to the 
drawing-room, and a public refusal to sing at all in a 
house where art had been outraged in his person. 

Some of the old disciplinary instincts of the Oxford 
tutor awoke in Langham at the sight of the creature, 
and, with a prompt sternness which amazed himself, 
and nearly set MacFadden whimpering, he got rid of 
the man, shut the hall-door on him, and went back to 
the drawing-room. 

'Well?' said Rose in anxiety, coming up to him. 

'I have sent him away/ he said briefly, an eye of 
unusual quickness and brightness looking down upon 
her; 'he was in no condition to sing. He chose to be 
offended, apparently, because he was put out of his 
turn, and has been giving the servants trouble/ 
[ 243 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Rose flushed deeply, and drew herself up with a look 
half trouble, half defiance, at Langham. 

' I trust you will not ask him again/ he said, with the 
same decision. 'And if I might say so there are one or 
two people still here whom 1 should like to see you 
exclude at the same time/ 

They had withdrawn into the bow-window out of 
earshot of the rest of the room. Langham's look turned 
significantly towards a group near the piano. It con- 
tained one or two men whom he regarded as belonging 
to a low type; men who, if it suited their purpose, 
would be quite ready to tell or invent malicious stories 
of the girl they were now flattering, and whose stand- 
ards and instincts represented a coarser world than 
Rose in reality knew anything about. 

Her eyes followed his. 

'I know/ she said petulantly, 'that you dislike 
artists. They are not your world. They are mine/ 

'I dislike artists? What nonsense, too! To me per- 
sonally these men's ways don't matter in the least. 
They go their road and I mine. But I deeply resent 
any danger of discomfort and annoyance to you ! ' 

He still stood frowning, a glow of indignant energy 
showing itself in his attitude, his glance. She could not 
know that he was at that moment vividly realising the 
drunken scene that might have taken place in her pres- 
ence if he had not succeeded in getting that man safely 
out of the house. But she felt that he was angry, and 
mostly angry with her, and there was something so 
piquant and unexpected in his anger ! 

'I am afraid/ she said, with a queer sudden sub- 
missiveness, 'you have been going through something 
[ 244 ] 



ROSE 

very disagreeable. I am very sorry. Is it my fault?' 
she added, with a whimsical flash of eye, half fun, half 
serious. 

He eould hardly believe his ears. 

'Yes, it is your fault, I think!' he answered her, 
amazed at his own boldness. ' Not that / was annoyed 
- Heavens! what does that matter? but that you 
and your mother and sister were very near an unpleas- 
ant scene. You will not take advice, Miss Leyburn, - 
you will take your own way in spite of what any one 
else can say or hint to you, and some day you will ex- 
pose yourself to annoyance when there is no one near 
to protect you!' 

'Well, if so, it won't be for want of a mentor,' she 
said, dropping him a mock curtsey. But her lip trem- 
bled under its smile, and her tone had not lost its 
gentleness. 

At this moment Mr. Flaxman, who had gradually 
established himself as the joint leader of these musical 
afternoons, came forward to summon Rose to a quar- 
tette. He looked from one to the other, a little sur- 
prise penetrating through his suavity of manner. 

'Am I interrupting you?' 

'Not at all,' said Rose; then, turning back to Lang- 
ham, she said in a hurried whisper: 'Don't say any- 
thing about the wretched man ; it would make mamma 
nervous. He shan't come here again.' 

Mr. Flaxman waited till the whisper was over, and 
then led her off, with a change of manner which she 
immediately perceived, and which lasted for the rest of 
the evening. 

Langham went home, and sat brooding over the 
[ 245 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

fire. Her voice had not been so kind, her look so 
womanly, for months. Had she been reading ' Shirley, ' 
and would she have liked him to play Louis Moore? 
He went into a fit of silent convulsive laughter as the 
idea occurred to him. 

Some secret instinct made him keep away from her 
for a time. At last, one Friday afternoon, as he 
emerged from the Museum, where he had been col- 
lating the MSS. of some obscure Alexandrian, the old 
craving returned with added strength, and he turned 
involuntarily westward. 

An acquaintance of his, recently made in the course 
of work at the Museum, a young Russian professor, ran 
after him, and walked with him. Presently they passed 
a poster on the wall, which contained in enormous 
letters the announcement "of Madame Desforets's 
approaching visit to London, a list of plays, and the 
dates of performances. 

The young Russian suddenly stopped and stood 
pointing at the advertisement, with shaking derisive 
finger, his eyes aflame, the whole man quivering with 
what looked like antagonism and hate. 

Then he broke into a fierce flood of French. Lang- 
ham listened till they had passed Piccadilly, passed the 
Park, and till the young savant turned southwards 
towards his Brompton lodgings. 

Then Langham slowly climbed Campden Hill, medi- 
tating. His thoughts were an odd mixture of the 
things he had just heard, and of a scene at Murewell 
long ago when a girl had denounced him for 'calumny/ 

At the door of Lerwick Gardens he was informed that 
Mrs. Leyburn was upstairs with an attack of bron- 
[ 246 ] 



ROSE 

chitis. But the servant thought the young ladies were 
at home. Would he come in? He stood irresolute a 
moment, then went in on a pretext of 'inquiry/ 

The maid threw open the drawing-room door, and 
there was Rose sitting well into the fire for it was 
a raw February afternoon with a book. 

She received him with all her old hard brightness. 
He was, indeed, instantly sorry that he had made his 
way in. Tyrant! was she displeased because he had 
slipped his chain for rather longer than usual? 

However, he sat down, delivered his book, and they 
talked first about her mother's illness. They had been 
anxious, she said, but the doctor, who had just taken 
his departure, had now completely reassured them. 

'Then you will be able probably after all to put in 
an appearance at Lady Charlotte's this evening?' he 
asked her. 

The omnivorous Lady Charlotte of course had made 
acquaintance with him in the Leyburns' drawing-room, 
as she did with everybody who crossed her path, and 
three days before he had received a card from her for 
this evening. 

'Oh yes! But I have had to miss a rehearsal this 
afternoon. That concert at Searle House is becoming 
a great nuisance.' 

'It will be a brilliant affair, I suppose. Princes on 
one side of you and Albani on the other. I see they 
have given you the most conspicuous part as violinist.' 

'Yes/ she said with a little satirical tightening of the 
lip. 'Yes I suppose I ought to be much flattered/ 

'Of course,' he said, smiling, but embarrassed. 'To 
many people you must be at this moment one of the 
[ 247 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

most enviable persons in the world. A delightful art 

- and every opportunity to make it tell ! ' 
There was a pause. She looked into the fire. 

'I don't know whether it is a delightful art/ she said 
presently, stifling a little yawn. ' I believe I am getting 
very tired of London. Sometimes I think I should n't 
be very sorry to find myself suddenly spirited back to 
Burwood!' 

Langham gave vent to some incredulous interjec- 
tion. He had apparently surprised her in a fit of ennui 
which was rare with her. 

'Oh no, not yet !' she said suddenly, with a return of 
animation. 'Madame Desforets comes next week, and 
I am to see her.' She drew herself up and turned a 
beaming face upon him. Was there a shaft of mis- 
chief in her eye? He could not tell. The firelight was 
perplexing. 

' You are to see her ? ' he said slowly. ' Is she coming 
here?' 

'I hope so. Mrs. Pierson is to bring her. I want 
mamma to have the amusement of seeing her. My 
artistic friends are a kind of tonic to her they ex- 
cite her so much. She regards them as a sort of show 

- much as you do, in fact, only in a more charitable 
fashion.' 

But he took no notice of what she was saying. 

'Madame Desforets is coming here?' he sharply re- 
peated, bending forward, a curious accent in his tone. 

'Yes!' she replied, with apparent surprise. Then 

with a careless smile : ' Oh, I remember when we were 

at Murewell, you were exercised that we should know 

her. Well, Mr. Langham, I told you then that you 

[ 248 ] 



ROSE 

were only echoing unworthy gossip. I am in the same 
mind still. I have seen her, and you have n't. To me 
she is the greatest actress in the world, and an ill-used 
woman to boot!' 

Her tone had warmed with every sentence. It struck 
him that she had wilfully brought up the topic that 
it gave her pleasure to quarrel with him. 

He put down his hat deliberately, got up, and stood 
with his back to the fire. She looked up at him curi- 
ously. But the dark regular face was almost hidden 
from her. 

'It is strange/ he said slowly, 'very strange that 
you should have told me this at this moment! Miss 
Leyburn, a great deal of the truth about Madame Des- 
forets I could neither tell, nor could you hear. There 
are charges against her proved in open court, again 
and again, which I could not even mention in your 
presence. But one thing I can speak of. Do you know 
the story of the sister at St. Petersburg?' 

'I know no stories against Madame Desforets,' said 
Rose loftily, her quickened breath responding to the 
energy of his tone. ' I have always chosen not to know, 
them.' 

'The newspapers were full of this particular story 
just before Christmas. I should have thought it must 
have reached you.' 

'I did not see it,' she replied stiffly; 'and I cannot 
see what good purpose is to be served by your repeat- 
ing it to me, Mr. Langham.' 

Langham could have smiled at her petulance, if he 
had not for once been determined and in earnest. 

'You will let me tell it, I hope?' he said quietly. 
[ 249 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

' I will tell it so that it shall not offend your ears. As 
it happens, I myself thought it incredible at the time. 
But, by an odd coincidence, it has just this afternoon 
been repeated to me by a man who was an eyewitness 
of part of it.' 

Rose was silent. Her attitude was hauteur itself, 
but she made no further active opposition. 

'Three months ago/ he began, speaking with some 
difficulty, but still with a suppressed force of feeling 
which amazed his hearer, 'Madame Desforets was act- 
ing in St. Petersburg. She had with her a large com- 
pany, and amongst them her own young sister, Elise 
Romey, a girl of eighteen. This girl had been always 
kept away from Madame Desforets by her parents, 
who had never been sufficiently consoled by their 
eldest daughter's artistic success for the infamy of 
her life/ 

Rose started indignantly. Langham gave her no 
time to speak. 

' Elise Romey, however, had developed a passion for 
the stage. Her parents were respectable and you 
know young girls in France are brought up strictly. 
She knew next to nothing of her sister's escapades. 
But she knew that she was held to be the greatest 
actress in Europe the photographs in the shops 
told her that she was beautiful. She conceived a ro- 
mantic passion for the woman whom she had last seen 
when she was a child of five, and actuated partly by 
this hungry affection, partly by her own longing wish 
to become an actress, she escaped from home and joined 
Madame Desforets in the South of France. Madame 
Desforets seems at first to have been pleased to have 
[ 250 ] 



ROSE 

her. The girl's adoration pleased her vanity. Her 
presence with her gave her new opportunities of pos- 
ing. I believe/ and Langham gave a little dry laugh, 
'they were photographed together at Marseilles with 
their arms round each other's necks, and the photo- 
graph had an immense success. However, on the way 
to St. Petersburg, difficulties arose. Elise was pretty, 
in a blonde childish way, and she caught the attention 
of the jeune premier of the company, a man' - - the 
speaker became somewhat embarrassed 'whom 
Madame Desforts seems to have regarded as her par- 
ticular property. There were scenes at different towns 
on the journey. Elise became frightened wanted to 
go home. But the elder sister, having begun torment- 
ing her, seems to have determined to keep her hold on 
her, as a cat keeps and tortures a mouse mainly for 
the sake of annoying the man of whom she was jealous. 
They arrived at St. Petersburg in the depth of winter. 
The girl was worn out with travelling, unhappy, and 
ill. One night in Madame Desforets's apartment there 
was a supper-party, and after it a horrible quarrel. No 
one exactly knows what happened. But towards 
twelve o'clock that night Madame Desforets turned 
her young sister in evening-dress, a light shawl round 
her, out into the snowy streets of St. Petersburg, 
barred the door behind her, and revolver in hand 
dared the wretched man who had caused the fracas to 
follow her.' 

Rose sat immoveable. She had grown pale, but the 
firelight was not revealing. 

Langham turned away from her towards the blaze, 
holding out his hands to it mechanically. 
[ 251 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'The poor child/ he said, after a pause, in a lower 
voice, ' wandered about for some hours. It was a fright- 
ful night the great capital was quite strange to her. 
She was insulted fled this way and that grew 
benumbed with cold and terror, and was found un- 
conscious in the early morning under the archway of 
a house some two miles from her sister's lodgings/ 

There was a dead silence. Then Rose drew a long 
quivering breath. 

'I do not believe it!' she said passionately. 'I can- 
not believe it!' 

'It was amply proved at the time/ said Langham 
drily, 'though of course Madame Desforets tried to put 
her own colour on it. But I told you I had private 
information. On one of the floors of the house where 
Elise Romey was picked up, lived a young university 
professor. He is editing an important Greek text, and 
has lately had business at the Museum. I made friends 
with him there. He walked home with me this after- 
noon, saw the announcement of Madame Desforets's 
coming, and poured out the story. He and his wife 
nursed the unfortunate girl with devotion. She lived 
just a week, and died of inflammation of the lungs. I 
never in my life heard anything so pitiful as his de- 
scription of her delirium, her terror, her appeals, her 
shivering misery of cold/ 

There was a pause. 

'She is not a woman/ he said presently, between his 
teeth. 'She is a wild beast.' 

Still there was silence, and still he held out his hand 
to the flame which Rose too was staring at. At last he 
turned round. 

[ 252 ] 



ROSE 

1 1 have told you a shocking story/ he said hurriedly. 
'Perhaps I ought not to have done it. But, as you sat 
there talking so lightly, so gaily, it suddenly became 
to me utterly intolerable that that woman should ever 
sit here in this room talk to you call you by your 
name laugh with you touch your hand! Not 
even your wilfulness shall carry you so far you shall 
not do it!' 

He hardly knew what he said. He was driven on by 
a passionate sense of physical repulsion to the notion 
of any contact between her pure fair youth and some- 
thing malodorous and corrupt. And there was besides 
a wild unique excitement in claiming for once to stay 
- to control her. 

Rose lifted her head slowly. The fire was bright. 
He saw the tears in her eyes, tears of intolerable pity 
for another girl's awful story. But through the tears 
something gleamed a kind of exultation the ex- 
ultation which the magician feels when he has called 
spirits from the vasty deep, and after long doubt and 
difficult invocation they rise at last before his eyes. 

'I will never see her again/ she said in a low waver- 
ing voice, but she too was hardly conscious of her own 
words. Their looks were on each other; the ruddy 
capricious light touched her glowing cheeks, her 
straight-lined grace, her white hand. Suddenly from 
the gulf of another's misery into which they had both 
been looking there had sprung up, by the strange con- 
trariety of human things, a heat and intoxication of 
feeling, wrapping them round, blotting out the rest of 
the world from them like a golden mist. 'Be always 
thus!' her parted lips, her liquid eyes were saying to 
[ 253 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

him. His breath seemed to fail him; he was lost in 
bewilderment. 

There were sounds outside Catherine's voice. 
He roused himself with a supreme effort. 

'To-night at Lady Charlotte's?' 

'To-night/ she said, and held out her hand. 

A sudden madness seized him he stooped his 
lips touched it it was hastily drawn away, and 
the door opened. 



Borough Farm, Surrey 

Where "Robert Elsmere" was written 



CHAPTER XXXV 

IN the first place, my dear aunt/ said Mr. Flax- 
man, throwing himself back in his chair in front of 
Lady Charlotte's drawing-room fire, 'you may spare 
your admonitions, because it is becoming more and 
more clear to me that, whatever my sentiments may 
be, Miss Leyburn never gives a serious thought to me/ 

He turned to look at his companion over his 
shoulder. His tone and manner were perfectly gay, 
and Lady Charlotte was puzzled by him. 

1 Stuff and nonsense ! ' replied the lady with her usual 
emphasis ; ' I never flatter you, Hugh, and I don't mean 
to begin now, but it would be mere folly not to re- 
cognise that you have advantages which must tell on 
the mind of any girl in Miss Leyburn's position/ 

Hugh Flaxman rose, and, standing before the fire 
with his hands in his pockets, made what seemed to be 
a close inspection of his irreproachable trouser-knees. 

'I am sorry for your theory, Aunt Charlotte,' he 
said, still stooping, 'but Miss Leyburn doesn't care 
twopence about my advantages/ 

'Very proper of you to say so,' returned Lady Char- 
lotte sharply ; ' the remark, however, my good sir, does 
more credit to your heart than your head/ 

'In the next place,' he went on, undisturbed, 'why 

you should have done your best this whole winter to 

throw Miss Leyburn and me together, if you meant in 

the end to oppose my marrying her, I don't quite see/ 

[ 255 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

He looked up smiling. Lady Charlotte reddened 
ever so slightly. 

'You know my weaknesses/ she said presently, with 
an effrontery which delighted her nephew. ' She is my 
latest novelty, she excites me, I can't do without her. 
As to you, I can't remember that you wanted much 
encouragement, but, I acknowledge, after all these 
years of resistance resistance to my most legitimate 
efforts to dispose of you there was a certain 
piquancy in seeing you caught at last!' 

' Upon my word ! ' he said, throwing back his head 
with a not very cordial laugh, in which, however, his 
aunt joined. She was sitting opposite to him, her power- 
ful loosely-gloved hands crossed over the rich velvet of 
her dress, her fair large face and greyish hair sur- 
mounted by a mighty cap, as vigorous, shrewd, and 
individual a type of English middle age as could be 
found. The room behind her and the second and third 
drawing-rooms were brilliantly lighted. Mr. Wynnstay 
was enjoying a cigar in peace in the smoking-room, 
while his wife and nephew were awaiting the arrival 
of the evening's guests upstairs. 

Lady Charlotte's mind had been evidently much 
perturbed by the conversation with her nephew of 
which we are merely describing the latter half. She 
was labouring under an uncomfortable sense of being 
hoist with her own petard an uncomfortable mem- 
ory of a certain warning of her husband's, delivered 
at Mure well. 

'And now,' said Mr. Flaxman, 'having confessed in 
so many words that you have done your best to bring 
me up to the fence, will you kindly recapitulate 
[ 256 ] 



ROSE 

the arguments why in your opinion I should not 
jump it?' 

'Society, amusement, flirtation, are one thing/ she 
replied with judicial imperativeness, 'marriage is an- 
other. In these democratic days we must know every- 
body; we should only marry our equals/ 

The instant, however, the words were out of her 
mouth, she regretted them. Mr. Flaxman's expression 
changed. 

'I do not agree with you/ he said calmly, 'and you 
know I do not. You could not, I imagine, have relied 
much upon that argument.' 

'Good gracious, Hugh!' cried Lady Charlotte 
crossly; 'you talk as if I were really the old cam- 
paigner some people suppose me to be. I have been 
amusing myself I have liked to see you amused. 
And it is only the last few weeks, since you have begun 
to devote yourself so tremendously, that I have come 
to take the thing seriously at all. I confess, if you like, 
that I have got you into the scrape now I want to 
get you out of it! I am not thin-skinned, but I hate 
family unpleasantnesses and you know what the 
duke will say.' 

'The duke be translated!' said Flaxman coolly. 
'Nothing of what you have said or could say on this 
point, my dear aunt, has the smallest weight with me. 
But Providence has been kinder to you and the duke 
than you deserve. Miss Leyburn does not care for me, 
and she does care or I am very much mistaken 
for somebody else.' 

He pronounced the words deliberately, watching 
their effect upon her. 

[ 257 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'What, that Oxford nonentity, Mr. Langham, the 
Elsmeres' friend? Ridiculous! What attraction could 
a man of that type have for a girl of hers?' 

' I am not bound to supply an answer to that ques- 
tion/ replied her nephew. 'However, he is not a 
nonentity. Far from it ! Ten years ago, when I was 
leaving Cambridge, he was certainly one of the most 
distinguished of the young Oxford tutors/ 

'Another instance of what university reputation is 
worth ! ' said Lady Charlotte scornfully. It was clear 
that even in the case of a beauty whom she thought it 
beneath him to marry, she was not pleased to see her 
nephew ousted by the force majeure of a rival and 
that a rival whom she regarded as an utter nobody, 
having neither marketable eccentricity, nor family, 
nor social brilliance to recommend him. 

Flaxman understood her perplexity and watched 
her with critical amused eyes. 

'I should like to know/ he said presently, with a 
curious slowness and suavity, ' I should greatly like to 
know why you asked him here to-night?' 

'You know perfectly well that I should ask anybody 

a convict, a crossing-sweeper if I happened to 
be half an hour in the same room with him !' 

Flaxman laughed. 

'Well, it may be convenient to-night/ he said reflect- 
ively. 'What are we to do some thought-reading?' 

'Yes. It isn't a crush. I have only asked about 
thirty or forty people. Mr. Denman is to manage it/ 

She mentioned an amateur thought-reader greatly 
in request at the moment. 

Flaxman cogitated for a while and then propounded 
[ 258 ] 



ROSE 

a little plan to his aunt, to which she, after some demur, 
agreed. 

' I want to make a few notes/ he said drily, when it 
was arranged; 'I should be glad to satisfy myself/ 

When the Miss Leyburns were announced, Rose, 
though the younger, came in first. She always took 
the lead by a sort of natural right, and Agnes never 
dreamt of protesting. To-night the sisters were in 
white. Some soft creamy stuff was folded and draped 
about Rose's slim shapely figure in such a way as 
to bring out all its charming roundness and grace. 
Her neck and arms bore the challenge of the dress 
victoriously. Her red-gold hair gleamed in the light 
of Lady Charlotte's innumerable candles. A knot of 
dusky blue feathers on her shoulder, and a Japanese 
fan of the same colour, gave just that touch of purpose 
and art which the spectator seems to claim as the tribute 
answering to his praise in the dress of a young girl. 
She moved with perfect self-possession, distributing a 
few smiling looks to the people she knew as she ad- 
vanced towards Lady Charlotte. Any one with a dis- 
cerning eye could have seen that she was in that stage 
of youth when a beautiful woman is like a statue to 
which the master is giving the finishing touches. Life, 
the sculptor, had been at work upon her, refining here, 
softening there, planing away awkwardness, empha- 
sising grace, disengaging as it were, week by week, and 
month by month, all the beauty of which the original 
conception was capable. And the process is one at- 
tended always by a glow and sparkle, a kind of efflu- 
ence of youth and pleasure, which makes beauty more 
beautiful and grace more graceful. 
[ 259 '] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

The little murmur and rustle of persons turning to 
look, which had already begun to mark her entrance 
into a room, surrounded Rose as she walked up to 
Lady Charlotte. Mr. Flaxman, who had been standing 
absently silent, woke up directly she appeared, and 
went to greet her before his aunt. 

'You failed us at rehearsal/ he said, with smiling 
reproach; 'we were all at sixes and sevens/ 

' I had a sick mother, unfortunately, who kept me 
at home. Lady Charlotte, Catherine could n't come. 
Agnes and I are alone in the world. Will you 
chaperon us?' 

'I don't know whether I will accept the responsi- 
bility to-night in that new gown, 'replied Lady Char- 
lotte grimly, putting up her eye-glass to look at it and 
the wearer. Rose bore the scrutiny with a light smil- 
ing silence, even though she knew Mr. Flaxman was 
looking too. 

'On the contrary,' she said, 'one always feels so 
particularly good and prim in a new frock.' 

'Really? I should have thought it one of Satan's 
likeliest moments/ said Flaxman, laughing his eyes, 
however, the while saying quite other things to her, as 
they finished their inspection of her dress. 

Lady Charlotte threw a sharp glance first at him and 
then at Rose's smiling ease, before she hurried off to 
other guests. 

'I have made a muddle as usual/ she said to herself 
in disgust, 'perhaps even a worse one than I thought!' 

Whatever might be Hugh Flaxman 's state of mind, 
however, he never showed greater self-possession than 
on this particular evening. 

.[ 260 ] 



ROSE 

A few minutes after Rose's entry he introduced her 
for the first time to his sister Lady Helen. The Varleys 
had only just come up to town for the opening of Par- 
liament, and Lady Helen had come to-night to Martin 
Street, all ardour to see Hugh's new adoration, and the 
girl whom all the world was beginning to talk about - 
both as a beauty and as an artist. She rushed at Rose, 
if any word so violent can be applied to anything so 
light and airy as Lady Helen's movements, caught the 
girl's hands in both hers, and, gazing up at her with 
undisguised admiration, said to her the prettiest, dain- 
tiest, most effusive things possible. Rose who with 
all her lithe shapeliness, looked over-tall and even a 
trifle stiff beside the tiny bird-like Lady Helen took 
the advances of Hugh Flaxman's sister with a pretty 
flush of flattered pride. She looked down at the small 
radiant creature with soft and friendly eyes, and Hugh 
Flaxman stood by, so far well pleased. 

Then he went off to fetch Mr. Denman, the hero of 
the evening, to be introduced to her. While he was 
away, Agnes, who was behind her sister, saw Rose's 
eyes wandering from Lady Helen to the door, rest- 
lessly searching and then returning. 

Presently through the growing crowd round the 
entrance Agnes spied a well-known form emerging. 

'Mr. Langham! But Rose never told me he was to 
be here to-night, and how dreadful he looks ! ' 

Agnes was so startled that her eyes followed Lang- 
ham closely across the room. Rose had seen him at 
once ; and they had greeted each other across the 
crowd. Agnes was absorbed, trying to analyse what 
had struck her so. The face was always melancholy, 
[ 261 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

always pale, but to-night it was ghastly, and from the 
whiteness of cheek and brow, the eyes, the jet-black 
hair stood out in intense and disagreeable relief. She 
would have remarked on it to Rose, but that Rose's 
attention was claimed by the young thought-reader, 
Mr. Denman, whom Mr. Flaxman had brought up. Mr. 
Denman was a fair-headed young Hercules, whose 
tremulous agitated manner contrasted oddly with his 
athlete's looks. Among other magnetisms he was 
clearly open to the magnetism of women, and he stayed 
talking to Rose, staring furtively at her the while from 
under his heavy lids, much longer than the girl 
thought fair. 

'Have you seen any experiments in the working of 
this new force before?' he asked her, with a solemnity 
which sat oddly on his commonplace bearded face. 

'Oh yes!' she said flippantly. 'We have tried it 
sometimes. It is very good fun/ 

He drew himself up. ' Not fun, ' he said impressively, 
'not fun. Thought-reading wants seriousness; the 
most tremendous things depend upon it. If established 
it will revolutionise our whole views of life. Even a 
Huxley could not deny that ! ' 

She studied him with mocking eyes. 'Do you im- 
agine this party to-night looks very serious?' 

His face fell. 

'One can seldom get people to take it scientifically,' 
he admitted, sighing. Rose, impatiently, thought him 
a most preposterous young man. Why was he not 
cricketing or shooting or exploring, or using the mus- 
cles Nature had given him so amply, to some decent 
practical purpose, instead of making a business out of 
[ 262 ] 



ROSE 

ruining his own nerves and other people's night after 
night in hot drawing-rooms? And when would he go 
away? 

'Come, Mr. Denman,' said Flaxman, laying hands 
upon him; 'the audience is about collected, I think. 
Ah, there you are ! ' and he gave Langham a cool greet- 
ing. 'Have you seen anything yet of these fashionable 
dealings with the Devil?' 

'Nothing. Are you a believer?' 

Flaxman shrugged his shoulders. ' I never refuse an 
experiment of any kind,' he added, with an odd change 
of voice. 'Come, Denman.' 

And the two went off. Langham came to a stand 
beside Rose, while old Lord Rupert, as jovial as ever, 
and bubbling over with gossip about the Queen's 
Speech, appropriated Lady Helen, who was the dar- 
ling of all elderly men. 

They did not speak. Rose sent him a ray from eyes 
full of a new Divine shyness. He smiled gently in an- 
swer to it, and full of her own young emotion, and of 
the effort to conceal it from all the world, she noticed 
none of that change which had struck Agnes. 

And all the while, if she could have penetrated the 
man's silence ! An hour before this moment Langham 
had vowed that nothing should take him to Lady Char- 
lotte's that night. And yet here he was, riveted to her 
side, alive like any normal human being to every detail 
of her loveliness, shaken to his inmost being by the in- 
toxicating message of her look, of the transformation 
which had passed in an instant over the teasing 
difficult creature of the last few months. 

At Murewell his chagrin had been not to feel, not to 
[ 263 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

struggle, to have been cheated out of experience. Well, 
here is the experience in good earnest ! And Langham 
is wrestling with it for dear life. And how little the 
exquisite child beside him knows of it, or of the man on 
whom she is spending her first wilful passion! She 
stands strangely exulting in her own strange victory 
over a life, a heart, which had defied and eluded her. 
The world throbs and thrills about her, the crowd 
beside her is all unreal, the air is full of whisper, of 
romance. 

The thought-reading followed its usual course. A 
murder and its detection were given in dumb show. 
Then it was the turn of card-guessing, bank-note-find- 
ing, and the various other forms of telepathic hide and 
seek. Mr. Flaxman superintended them all, his restless 
eye wandering every other minute to the farther draw- 
ing-room in which the lights had been lowered, catch- 
ing there always the same patch of black and white, - 
Rose's dress and the dark form beside her. 

'Are you convinced? Do you believe?' said Rose, 
merrily looking up at her companion. 

'In telepathy? Well so far I have not got 
beyond the delicacy and perfection of Mr. Denman's 
- muscular sensation. So much I am sure of ! ' 

'Oh, but your scepticism is ridiculous!' she said 
gaily. ' We know that some people have an extraor- 
dinary power over others.' 

'Yes, that certainly we know!' he answered, his 
voice dropping, an odd strained note in it. 'I grant 
you that.' 

She trembled deliciously. Her eyelids fell. They 
stood together, conscious only of each other. 
[ 264 ] 



ROSE 

'Now/ said Mr. Denman, advancing to the doorway 
between the two drawing-rooms, 'I have done all I 
can I am exhausted. But let me beg of you all to go 
on with some experiments amongst yourselves. Every 
fresh discovery of this power in a new individual is a 
gain to science. I believe about one in ten has some 
share of it. Mr. Flaxman and I will arrange everything, 
if any one will volunteer?' 

The audience broke up into groups, laughing, chat- 
ting, suggesting this and that. Presently Lady Char- 
lotte's loud dictatorial voice made itself heard, as she 
stood eye-glass in hand looking round the circle of her 
guests. 

'Somebody must venture we are losing time/ 

Then the eye-glass stopped at Rose, who was now 
sitting tall and radiant on the sofa, her blue fan across 
her white knees. 'Miss Leyburn you are always 
public-spirited will you be victimised for the good 
of science?' 

The girl got up with a smile. 

'And Mr. Langham will you see what you can do 
with Miss Leyburn? Hugh we all choose her task, 
don't we then Mr. Langham wills?' 

Flaxman came up to explain. Langham had turned 
to Rose a wild fury with Lady Charlotte and the 
whole affair sweeping through him. But there was 
no time to demur; that judicial eye was on them; 
the large figure and towering cap bent towards him. 
Refusal was impossible. 

' Command me ! ' he said with a sudden straightening 
of the form and a flush on the pale cheek. ' I am afraid 
Miss Leyburn will find me a very bad partner.' 
[ 265 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Well, now then!' said Flaxman; 'Miss Ley burn, 
will you please go down into the library while we settle 
what you are to do!' 

She went, and he held the door open for her. But 
she passed out unconscious of him rosy, confused, 
her eyes bent on the ground. 

'Now, then, what shall Miss Ley burn do?' asked 
Lady Charlotte in the same loud emphatic tone. 

'If I might suggest something quite different from 
anything that has been yet tried/ said Mr. Flaxman, 
'suppose we require Miss Leyburn to kiss the hand of 
the little marble statue of Hope in the far drawing- 
room. What do you say, Langham?' 

'What you please!' said Langham, moving up to 
him. A glance passed between the two men. In Lang- 
ham's there was a hardly sane antagonism and resent- 
ment, in Flaxman 's an excited intelligence. 

'Now then,' said Flaxman coolly, 'fix your mind 
steadily on what Miss Leyburn is to do you must 
take her hand but, except in thought, you must 
carefully follow and not lead her. Shall f call her?' 

Langham abruptly assented. He had a passionate 
sense of being watched tricked. Why were he and 
she to be made a spectacle for this man and his friends ! 
A mad irrational indignation surged through him. 

Then she was led in blindfolded, one hand stretched 
out feeling the air in front of her. The circle of people 
drew back. Mr. Flaxman and Mr. Denman prepared, 
note-book in hand, to watch the experiment. Lang- 
ham moved desperately forward. 

But the instant her soft trembling hand touched his, 
as though by enchantment, the surrounding scene, the 
[ 266 ] 



ROSE 

faces, the lights, were blotted out from him. He for- 
got his anger, he forgot everything but her and this 
thing she was to do. He had her in his grasp he was 
the man, the master and what enchanting readiness 
to yield in the swaying pliant form ! In the distance far 
away gleamed the statue of Hope, a child on tiptoe, 
one outstretched arm just visible from where he stood. 

There was a moment's silent expectation. Every 
eye was riveted on the two figures on the dark hand- 
some man on the blindfolded girl. 

At last Rose began to move gently forward. It was 
a strange wavering motion. The breath came quickly 
through her slightly parted lips ; her bright colour was 
ebbing. She was conscious of nothing but the grasp 
in which her hand was held otherwise her mind 
seemed a blank. Her state during the next few seconds 
was not unlike the state of some one under the partial 
influence of an anaesthetic ; a benumbing grip was laid 
on all her faculties ; and she knew nothing of how she 
moved or where she was going. 

Suddenly the trance cleared away. It might have 
lasted half an hour or five seconds, for all she knew. But 
she was standing beside a small marble statue in the 
farthest drawing-room, and her lips had on them a 
slight sense of chill, as though they had just been laid 
to something cold. 

She pulled off the handkerchief from her eyes. 
Above her was Langham's face, a marvellous glow and 
animation in every line of it. 

'Have I done it?' she asked in a tremulous whisper. 

For the moment her self-control was gone. She was 
still bewildered. 

[ 267 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

He nodded, smiling. 

'I am so glad/ she said, still in the same quick whis- 
per, gazing at him. There was the most adorable aban- 
don in her whole look and attitude. He could but just 
restrain himself from taking her in his arms, and for one 
bright flashing instant each saw nothing but the other. 

The heavy curtain which had partially hidden the 
door of the little old-fashioned powder-closet as they 
approached it, and through which they had swept 
without heeding, was drawn back with a rattle. 

'She has done it! Hurrah!' cried Mr. Flaxman. 
' What a rush that last was, Miss Leyburn ! You left us 
all behind/ 

Rose turned to him, still dazed, drawing her hand 
across her eyes. A rush? She had known nothing 
about it. 

Mr. Flaxman turned and walked back, apparently 
to report to his aunt, who, with Lady Helen, had been 
watching the experiment from the main drawing-room. 
His face was a curious mixture of gravity and the keen- 
est excitement. The gravity was mostly sharp com- 
punction. He had satisfied a passionate curiosity, but 
in the doing of it he had outraged certain instincts of 
breeding and refinement which were now revenging 
themselves. 

'Did she do it exactly?' said Lady Helen eagerly. 

'Exactly/ he said, standing still. 

Lady Charlotte looked at him significantly. But he 
would not see her look. 

'Lady Charlotte, where is my sister?' said Rose, 
coming up from the back room, looking now nearly as 
white as her dress. 

[ 268 ] 



ROSE 

It appeared that Agnes had just been carried off by 
a lady who lived on Campden Hill close to the Ley- 
burns, and who had been obliged to go at the begin- 
ning of the last experiment. Agnes, torn between her 
interest in what was going on and her desire to get back 
to her mother, had at last hurriedly accepted this Mrs. 
Sherwood's offer of a seat in her carriage, imagining 
that her sister would want to stay a good deal later, 
and relying on Lady Charlotte's promise that she 
should be safely put into a hansom. 

'I must go/ said Rose, putting her hand to her head. 
'How tiring this is! How long did it take, Mr. Flax- 
man?' 

'Exactly three minutes,' he said, his gaze fixed upon 
her with an expression that only Lady Helen noticed. 

'So little! Good-night, Lady Charlotte!' and giving 
her hand first to her hostess, then to Mr. Flaxman's 
bewildered sister, she moved away into the crowd. 

'Hugh, of course you are going down with her?' ex- 
claimed Lady Charlotte under her breath. 'You must. 
I promised to see her safely off the premises.' 

He stood immoveable. Lady Helen with a reproach- 
ful look made a step forward, but he caught her arm. 

'Don't spoil sport,' he said, in a tone which, amid 
the hum of discussion caused by the experiment, was 
heard only by his aunt and sister. 

They looked at him the one amazed, the other 
grimly observant and caught a slight significant 
motion of the head towards Langham's distant figure. 

Langham came up and made his farewells. As he 
turned his back, Lady Helen's large astonished eyes 
followed him to the door. 

[ 269 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

' Oh, Hugh ! ' was all she could say as they came back 
to her brother. 

'Never mind, Nellie/ he whispered, touched by the 
bewildered sympathy of her look; 'I will tell you all 
about it to-morrow. I have not been behaving well, 
and am not particularly pleased with myself. But for 
her it is all right. Poor, pretty little thing!' 

And he walked away into the thick of the conver- 
sation. 

Downstairs the hall was already full of people wait- 
ing for their carriages. Langham, hurrying down, saw 
Rose coming out of the cloak-room muffled up in 
brown furs, a pale child-like fatigue in her looks which 
set his heart beating faster than ever. 

'Miss Leyburn, how are you going home?' 

'Will you ask for a hansom, please?' 

'Take my arm,' he said, and she clung to him 
through the crush till they reached the door. 

Nothing but private carriages were in sight. The 
street seemed blocked, a noisy tumult of horses and 
footmen and shouting men with lanterns. Which of 
them suggested, 'Shall we walk a few steps?' At any 
rate, here they were, out in the wind and the dark- 
ness, every step carrying them farther away from that 
moving patch of noise and light behind. 

'We shall find a cab at once in Park Lane/ he said. 
'Are you warm?' 

'Perfectly.' 

A fur hood fitted round her face, to which the colour 
was coming back. She held her cloak tightly round her, 
and her little feet, fairly well shod, slipped in and out 
on the dry frosty pavement, 
f 270 1 



ROSE 

Suddenly they passed a huge unfinished house, the 
building of which was being pushed on by electric 
light. The great walls, ivory white in the glare, rose 
into the purply-blue of the starry February sky, and as 
they passed within the power of the lamps, each saw 
with noonday distinctness every line and feature in the 
other's face. They swept on the night, with its 
alternations of flame and shadow, an unreal and en- 
chanted world about them. A space of darkness 
succeeded the space of daylight. Behind them in the 
distance was the sound of hammers and workmen's 
voices ; before them the dim trees of the park. Not a 
human being was in sight. London seemed to exist to 
be the mere dark friendly shelter of this wandering of 
theirs. 

A blast of wind blew her cloak out of her grasp. But 
before she could close it again, an arm was flung 
around her. She could not speak or move, she stood 
passive, conscious only of the strangeness of the win- 
try wind, and of this warm breast against which her 
cheek was laid. 

' Oh, stay there ! ' a voice said close to her ear. ' Rest 
there pale tired child pale tired little child !' 

That moment seemed to last an eternity. He held 
her close, cherishing and protecting her from the cold 
- not kissing her till at length she looked up with 
bright eyes, shining through happy tears. 

'Are you sure at last?' she said, strangely enough, 
speaking out of the far depths of her own thought to 
his. 

' Sure ! ' he said, his expression changing. ' What can 
I be sure of? I am sure that I am not worth your lov- 
[ 271 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ing, sure that I am poor, insignificant, obscure, that if 
you give yourself to me you will be miserably throw- 
ing yourself away!' 

She looked at him, still smiling, a white sorceress 
weaving spells about him in the darkness. He drew 
her lightly gloved hand through his arm, holding the 
fragile fingers close in his, and they moved on. 

'Do you know/ he repeated, a tone of intense 
melancholy replacing the tone of passion, 'how 
little I have to give you?' 

'I know/ she answered, her face turned shyly away 
from him, her words coming from under the fur hood 
which had fallen forward a little, ' I know that 
that you are not rich, that you distrust yourself, 
that ' 

'Oh, hush/ he said, and his voice was full of pain. 
'You know so little; let me paint myself. I have lived 
alone, for myself, in myself, till sometimes there seems 
to be hardly anything left in me to love or be loved ; 
nothing but a brain, a machine that exists only for 
certain selfish ends. My habits are the tyrants of years ; 
and at Murewell, though I loved you there, they were 
strong enough to carry me away from you. There is 
something paralysing in me, which is always forbidding 
me to feel, to will. Sometimes I think it is an actual 
physical disability the horror that is in me of change, 
of movement, of effort. Can you bear with me? Can 
you be poor? Can you live a life of monotony? Oh, 
impossible!' he broke out, almost putting her hand 
away from him. 'You, who ought to be a queen of this 
world, for whom everything bright and brilliant is 
waiting if you will but stretch out your hand to it. It 
[ 272 ] 



ROSE 

is a crime an infamy that I should be speaking to 
you like this ! ' 

Rose raised her head. A passing light shone upon 
her. She was trembling and pale again, but her eyes 
were unchanged. 

'No, no/ she said wistfully; 'not if you love me/ 

He hung above her, an agony of feeling in the fine 
rigid face, of which the beautiful features and surfaces 
were already worn and blanched by the life of thought. 
What possessed him was not so much distrust of cir- 
cumstance as doubt, hideous doubt, of himself, of this 
very passion beating within him. She saw nothing, 
meanwhile, but the self -depreciation which she knew 
so well in him, and against which her love in its rash 
ignorance and generosity cried out. 

'You will not say you love me P she cried, with hur- 
rying breath. 'But I know I know you do/ 

Then her courage sinking, ashamed, blushing, once 
more turning away from him 'At least, if you don't, 
I am very very unhappy/ 

The soft words flew through his blood. For an in- 
stant he felt himself saved, like Faust, saved by 
the surpassing moral beauty of one moment's im- 
pression. That she should need him, that his life should 
matter to hers ! They were passing the garden wall of 
a great house. In the deepest shadow of it, he stooped 
suddenly and kissed her. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

LANGHAM parted with Rose at the corner of Martin 
Street. She would not let him take her any farther. 

'I will say nothing/ she whispered to him, as he put 
her into a passing hansom, wrapping her cloak warmly 
round her, 'till I see you again. To-morrow?' 

'To-morrow morning/ he said, waving his hand to 
her, and in another instant he was facing the north 
wind alone. 

He walked on fast towards Beaumont Street, but 
by the time he reached his destination midnight had 
struck. He made his way into his room where the fire 
was still smouldering, and striking a light, sank into 
his large reading-chair, beside which the volumes used 
in the afternoon lay littered on the floor. 

He was suddenly penetrated with the cold of the 
night, and hung shivering over the few embers which 
still glowed. What had happened to him? In this 
room, in this chair, the self-forgetting excitement of 
that walk, scarcely half an hour old, seems to him 
already long passed incredible almost. 

And yet the brain was still full of images, the mind 
still full of a hundred new impressions. That fair head 
against his breast, those soft confiding words, those 
yielding lips. Ah ! it is the poor, silent, insignificant 
student that has conquered. It is he, not the success- 
ful man of the world, that has held that young and 
beautiful girl in his arms, and heard from her the 
[ 274 ] 



ROSE 

sweetest and humblest confession of love. Fate can 
have neither wit nor conscience to have ordained it so ; 
but fate has so ordained it. Langham takes note of his 
victory, takes dismal note also that the satisfaction of 
it has already half -departed. 

So the great moment has come and gone ! The one 
supreme experience, which life and his own will had so 
far rigidly denied him, is his. He has felt the tortur- 
ing thrill of passion, he has evoked such an answer 
as all men might envy him, and fresh from Rose's 
kiss, from Rose's beauty, the strange maimed soul falls 
to a pitiless analysis of his passion, her response ! One 
moment he is at her feet in a voiceless trance of grati- 
tude and tenderness ; the next is nothing what it 
promises to be ! and has the boon already, now that 
he has it in his grasp, lost some of its beauty, just as 
the sea-shell drawn out of the water, where its lovely 
iridescence tempted eye and hand, loses half its fairy 
charm? 

The night wore on. Outside an occasional cab or 
cart would rattle over the stones of the street, an oc- 
casional voice or step would penetrate the thin walls 
of the house, bringing a shock of sound into that silent 
upper room. Nothing caught Langham's ear. He was 
absorbed in the dialogue which was to decide his life. 

Opposite to him, as it seemed, there sat a spectral 
reproduction of himself, his true self, with whom he 
held a long and ghastly argument. 

' But I love her ! I love her ! A little courage a 

little effort and I too can achieve what other men 

achieve. I have gifts, great gifts. Mere contact with 

her, the mere necessities of the situation, will drive 

[ 275 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

me back to life, teach me how to live normally, like 
other men. I have not forced her love it has been 
a free gift. Who can blame me if I take it, if I cling to 
it, as the man freezing in a crevasse clutches the rope 
thrown to him? 7 

To which the pale spectre self said scornfully - 

'Courage and effort may as well be dropped out 
of your vocabulary. They are words that you have no 
use for. Replace them by two others habit and 
character. Slave as you are of habit, of the character 
you have woven for yourself out of years of deliberate 
living what wild unreason to imagine that love can 
unmake, can re-create ! What you are, you are to all 
eternity. Bear your own burden, but for God's sake 
beguile no other human creature into trusting you 
with theirs ! ' 

'But she loves me! Impossible that I should crush 
and tear so kind, so warm a heart ! Poor child poor 
child ! I have played on her pity. I have won all she 
had to give. And now to throw her gift back in her face 
- oh monstrous oh inhuman!' and the cold drops 
stood on his forehead. 

But the other self was inexorable. 'You have acted 
as you were bound to act as any man may be ex- 
pected to act in whom will and manhood and true 
human kindness are dying out, poisoned by despair 
and the tyranny of the critical habit. But at least do 
not add another crime to the first. What in God's name 
have you to offer a creature of such claims, such am- 
bitions? You are poor you must go back to Oxford 
you must take up the work your soul loathes 
grow more soured, more embittered maintain a use- 
[ 276 ] 



ROSE 

less degrading struggle, till her youth is done, her 
beauty wasted, and till you yourself have lost every 
shred of decency and dignity, even that decorous out- 
ward life in which you can still wrap yourself from the 
world ! Think of the little house the children the 
money difficulties she, spiritually starved, every 
illusion gone, you incapable soon of love, incapable 
even of pity, conscious only of a dull rage with her, 
yourself, the world ! Bow the neck submit refuse 
that long agony for yourself and her, while there is 
still time. Kismet Kismet!' 

And spread out before Langham's shrinking soul 
there lay a whole dismal Hogarthian series, image lead- 
ing to image, calamity to calamity, till in the last scene 
of all the maddened inward sight perceived two figures, 
two grey and withered figures, far apart, gazing at each 
other with cold and sunken eyes across dark rivers of 
sordid irremediable regret. 

The hours passed away, and in the end, the spectre 
self, a cold and bloodless conqueror, slipped back into 
the soul which remorse and terror, love and pity, a last 
impulse of hope, a last stirring of manhood, had been 
alike powerless to save. 

The February dawn was just beginning when he 
dragged himself to a table and wrote. 

Then for hours afterwards he sat sunk in his chair, 
the stupor of fatigue broken every now and then by 
a flash of curious introspection. It was a base thing 
which he had done it was also a strange thing psycho- 
logically ; and at intervals he tried to understand it, to 
track it to its causes. 

At nine o'clock he crept out into the frosty daylight, 
[ 277 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

found a commissionaire who was accustomed to do 
errands for him, and sent him with a letter to Lerwick 
Gardens. 

On his way back he passed a gunsmith's, and stood 
looking fascinated at the shining barrels. Then he 
moved away, shaking his head, his eyes gleaming as 
though the spectacle of himself had long ago passed 
the bounds of tragedy become farcical even. 

' I should only stand a month arguing with 
my finger on the trigger/ 

In the little hall his landlady met him, gave a start 
at the sight of him, and asked him if he ailed and if she 
could do anything for him. He gave her a sharp an- 
swer and went upstairs, where she heard him dragging 
books and boxes about as though he were packing. 

A little later Rose was standing at the dining-room 
window of No. 27, looking on to a few trees bedecked 
with rime which stood outside. The ground and roofs 
were white, a promise of sun was struggling through 
the fog. So far everything in these unfrequented 
Campden Hill roads was clean, crisp, enlivening, and 
the sparkle in Rose's^ mood answered to that of Nature. 

Breakfast had just been cleared away. Agnes was 
upstairs with Mrs. Leyburn. Catherine, who was stay- 
ing in the house for a day or two, was in a chair by 
the fire reading some letters forwarded to her from 
Bedford Square. 

He would appear some time in the morning, she sup- 
posed. With an expression half-rueful, half-amused, 
she fell to imagining his interview with Catherine, 
with her mother. Poor Catherine ! Rose feels herself 
happy enough to allow herself a good honest pang of 
[ 278 ] 



ROSE 

remorse for much of her behaviour to Catherine this 
winter; how thorny she has been, how unkind often, 
to this sad changed sister. And now this will be a 
fresh blow ! ' But afterwards, when she has got over it, 
- when she knows that it makes me happy, that 
nothing else would make me happy, then she will 
be reconciled, and she and I perhaps will make friends, 
all over again, from the beginning. I won't be angry 
or hard over it poor Cathie ! ' 

And with regard to Mr. Flaxman. As she stands 
there waiting idly for what destiny may send her, she 
puts herself through a little light catechism about this 
other friend of hers. He had behaved somewhat oddly 
towards her of late ; she begins now to remember that 
her exit from Lady Charlotte's house the night before 
had been a very different matter from the royally 
attended leave-takings, presided over by Mr. Flax- 
man, which generally befell her there. Had he under- 
stood? With a little toss of her head she said to herself 
that she did not care if it was so. ' I have never en- 
couraged Mr. Flaxman to think I was going to marry 
him.' 

But of course Mr. Flaxman will consider she has 
done badly for herself. So will Lady Charlotte and all 
her outer world. They will say she is dismally throw- 
ing herself away, and her mother, no doubt influenced 
by the clamour, will take up very much the same line. 

What matter ! The girl's spirit seemed to rise against 
all the world. There was a sort of romantic exaltation 
in her sacrifice of herself, a jubilant looking forward to 
remonstrance, a wilful determination to overcome it. 
That she was about to do the last thing she could have 
[ 279 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

been expected to do, gave her pleasure. Almost all 
artistic faculty goes with a love of surprise and 
caprice in life. Rose had her full share of the artistic 
love for the impossible and the difficult. 

Besides success ! To make a man hope and love, 
and live again that shall be her success. She leaned 
against the window, her eyes filling, her heart very soft. 

Suddenly she saw a commissionaire coming up the lit- 
tle flagged passage to the door. He gave in a note, and 
immediately afterwards the dining-room door opened. 

'A letter for you, Miss/ said the maid. 

Rose took it glanced at the handwriting. A 
bright flush a surreptitious glance at Catherine who 
sat absorbed in a wandering letter from Mrs. Darcy. 
Then the girl carried her prize to the window and 
opened it. 

Catherine read on, gathering up the Murewell names 
and the details as some famished gleaner might gather 
up the scattered ears on a plundered field. At last 
something in the silence of the room, and of the other 
inmate in it, struck her. 

'Rose/ she said, looking up, 'was that some one 
brought you a note?' 

The girl turned with a start a letter fell to the 
ground. She made a faint ineffectual effort to pick it 
up, and sank into a chair. 

'Rose darling!' cried Catherine, springing up, 
'are you ill?' 

Rose looked at her with a perfectly colourless fixed 
face, made a feeble negative sign, and then laying her 
arms on the breakfast-table in front of her, let her head 
fall upon them. 

[ 280 ] 



ROSE 

Catherine stood over her aghast. 'My darling - 
what is it? Come and lie down take this water/ 

She put some close to her sister's hand, but Rose 
pushed it away. 'Don't talk to me/ she said, with 
difficulty. 

Catherine knelt beside her in helpless pain and per- 
plexity, her cheek resting against her sister's shoulder 
as a mute sign of sympathy. What could be the mat- 
ter? Presently her gaze travelled from Rose to the 
letter on the floor. It lay with the address uppermost, 
and she at once recognised Langham's handwriting. 
But before she could combine any rational ideas with 
this quick perception, Rose had partially mastered 
herself. She raised her head slowly and grasped her 
sister's arm. 

'I was startled,' she said, a forced smile on her 
white lips. 'Last night Mr. Langham asked me 
to marry him I expected him here this morning 
to consult with mamma and you. That letter is 
to inform me that he made a mistake and he 
is very sorry ! So am I ! It is so so bewilder- 
ing!' " 

She got up restlessly and went to the fire as though 
shivering with cold. Catherine thought she hardly 
knew what she was saying. The elder sister followed 
her, and throwing an arm round her, pressed the slim 
irresponsive figure close. Her eyes were bright with 
anger, her lips quivering. 

'That he should dare!' she cried. 'Rose my poor 
little Rose.' 

'Don't blame him!' said Rose, crouching down 
before the fire, while Catherine fell into the armchair 
[ 281 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

again. ' It does n't seem to count, from you you 
have always been so ready to blame him ! ' 

Her brow contracted ; she looked frowning into the 
fire, her still colourless mouth working painfully. 

Catherine was cut to the heart. 'Oh, Rose!' she 
said, holding out her hands, ' I will blame no one, dear. 
I seem hard but I love you so. Oh, tell me you 
would have told me everything once ! ' 

There was the most painful yearning in her tone. 
Rose lifted a listless right hand and put it into her 
sister's outstretched palms. But she made no answer, 
till suddenly, with a smothered cry, she fell towards 
Catherine. 

'Catherine! I cannot bear it. I said I loved him 
he kissed me I could kill myself and him.' 

Catherine never forgot the mingled tragedy and 
domesticity of the hour that followed the little fa- 
miliar morning sounds in and about the house, maids 
running up and down stairs, tradesmen calling, bells 
ringing, and here, at her feet, a spectacle of moral 
and mental struggle which she only half-understood, 
but which wrung her inmost heart. Two strains of 
feeling seemed to be present in Rose a sense of 
shock, of wounded pride, of intolerable humiliation, 
and a strange intervening passion of pity, not for her- 
self but for Langham, which seemed to have been 
stirred in her by his letter. But though the elder ques- 
tioned, and the younger seemed to answer, Catherine 
could hardly piece the story together, nor could she 
find the answer to the question filling her own in- 
dignant heart, 'Does she love him?' 

At last Rose got up from her crouching position by 
[ 282 ] 



ROSE 

the fire and stood, a white ghost of herself, pushing 
back the bright encroaching hair from eyes that were 
dry and feverish. 

'If I could only be angry downright angry/ she 
said, more to herself than Catherine, 'it would do 
one good/ 

'Give others leave to be angry for you!' cried 
Catherine. 

'Don't!' said Rose, almost fiercely, drawing her- 
self away. 'You don't know. It is a fate. Why did 
we ever meet? You may read his letter; you must 
- you misjudge him you always have. No, no' 
and she nervously crushed the letter in her hand 
'not yet. But you shall read it some time you and 
Robert too. Married people always tell one another. 
It is due to him, perhaps due to me too,' and a hot 
flush transfigured her paleness for an instant. 'Oh, 
my head! Why does one's mind affect one's body 
like this? It shall not it is humiliating! "Miss 
Leyburn has been jilted and cannot see visitors," 
that is the kind of thing. Catherine, when you have 
finished that document, will you kindly come and 
hear me practise my last Raff I am going. Good- 
bye.' 

She moved to the door, but Catherine had only just 
time to catch her, or she would have fallen over a 
chair from sudden giddiness. 

'Miserable!' she said, dashing a tear from her eyes. 
'I must go and lie down then in the proper missish 
fashion. Mind, on your peril, Catherine, not a word to 
any one but Robert. I shall tell Agnes. And Robert is 
not to speak to me ! No, don't come I will go alone.' 
[ 283 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

And warning her sister back, she groped her way 
upstairs. Inside her room, when she had locked the 
door, she stood a moment upright with the letter 
in her hand, the blotted incoherent scrawl, where 
Langham had for once forgotten to be literary, where 
every pitiable half -finished sentence pleaded with her 

- even in the first smart of her wrong for pardon, 
for compassion, as towards something maimed and 
paralysed from birth, unworthy even of her contempt. 
Then the tears began to rain over her cheeks. 

' I was not good enough I was not good enough 

- God would not let me!' 

And she fell on her knees beside the bed, the little 
bit of paper crushed in her hands against her lips. 
Not good enough for what? To save? 

How lightly she had dreamed of healing, redeem- 
ing, changing ! And the task is refused her. It is not 
so much the cry of personal desire that shakes her as 
she kneels and weeps, nor is it mere wounded woman's 
pride. It is a strange stern sense of law. Had she been 
other than she is more loving, less self-absorbed, 
loftier in motive he could not have loved her so, 
have left her so. Deep undeveloped forces of charac- 
ter stir within her. She feels herself judged and 
with a righteous judgement issuing inexorably from 
the facts of life and circumstance. 

Meanwhile Catherine was shut up downstairs with 
Robert, who had come over early to see how the 
household fared. 

Robert listened to the whole luckless story with 
astonishment and dismay. This particular possibility 
[ 284 ] 



ROSE 

of mischief had gone out of his mind for some time. 
He had been busy in his East End work. Catherine had 
been silent. Over how many matters they would once 
have discussed with open heart was she silent now? 

1 1 ought to have been warned/ he said, with quick 
decision, 'if you knew this was going on. I am the 
only man among you, and I understand Langham 
better than the rest of you. I might have looked after 
the poor child a little.' 

Catherine accepted the reproach mutely as one little 
smart the more. However, what had she known? 
She had seen nothing unusual of late, nothing to make 
her think a crisis was approaching. Nay, she had flat- 
tered herself that Mr. Flaxman, whom she liked, was 
gaining ground. 

Meanwhile Robert stood pondering anxiously what 
could be done. Could anything be done? 

'I must go and see him/ he said presently. 'Yes, 
dearest, I must. Impossible the thing should be left 
so ! I am his old friend, almost her guardian. You 
say she is in great trouble why, it may shadow her 
whole life ! No he must explain things to us he 
is bound to he shall. It may be something compar- 
atively trivial in the way after all money or pro- 
spects or something of the sort. You have not seen 
the letter, you say? It is the last marriage in the 
world one could have desired for her but if she 
loves him, Catherine, if she loves him - 

He turned to her appealing, remonstrating. 

Catherine stood pale and rigid. Incredible that he 

should think it right to intermeddle to take the 

smallest step towards reversing so plain a declaration 

[ 285 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

of God's will! She could not sympathise she would 
not consent. Robert watched her in painful indecision. 
He knew that she thought him indifferent to her true 
reason for finding some comfort even in her sister's 
trouble that he seemed to her mindful only of the 
passing human misery, indifferent to the eternal risk. 

They stood sadly looking at one another. Then he 
snatched up his hat. 

'I must go/ he said in a low voice; 'it is right/ 

And he went stepping, however, with the best 
intentions in the world, into a blunder. 

Catherine sat painfully struggling with herself after 
he had left her. Then some one came into the room 
some one with pale looks and flashing eyes. It was 
Agnes. 

'She just let me in to tell me, and put me out again/ 
said the girl her whole, even, cheerful self one flame 
of scorn and wrath. 'What are such creatures made 
for, Catherine why do they exist?' 

Meanwhile, Robert had trudged off through the 
frosty morning streets to Langham's lodgings. His 
mood was very hot by the time he reached his desti- 
nation, and he climbed the staircase to Langham's 
room in some excitement. When he tried to open the 
door after the answer to his knock bidding him enter, 
he found something barring the way. 'Wait a little/ 
said the voice inside, 'I will move the case/ 

With difficulty the obstacle was removed and the 
door opened. Seeing his visitor, Langham stood for 
a moment in sombre astonishment. The room was 
littered with books and packing-cases with which he 
had been busy. 

[ 286 ] 



ROSE 

'Come in/ he said, not offering to shake hands. 

Robert shut the door, and, picking his way among 
the books, stood leaning on the back of the chair Lang- 
ham pointed out to him. Langham paused opposite 
to him, his waving jet-black hair falling forward over 
the marble pale face which had been Robert's young 
ideal of manly beauty. 

The two men were only six years distant in age, 
but so strong is old association that Robert's feeling 
towards his friend had always remained in many re- 
spects the feeling of the undergraduate towards the 
don. His sense of it now filled him with a curious 
awkwardness. 

'I know why you are come/ said Langham slowly, 
after a scrutiny of his visitor. 

'I am here by a mere accident/ said the other, 
thinking perfect frankness best. 'My wife was present 
when her sister received your letter. Rose gave her 
leave to tell me. I had gone up to ask after them all, 
and came on to you, of course on my own responsi- 
bility entirely ! Rose knows nothing of my coming 
nothing of what I have to say/ 

He paused, struck against his will by the looks of 
the man before him. Whatever he had done during 
the past twenty-four hours he had clearly had the 
grace to suffer in the doing of it. 

'You can have nothing to say!' said Langham, 
leaning against the chimneypiece and facing him with 
black, darkly-burning eyes. 'You know me/ 

Never had Robert seen him under this aspect. All 
the despair, all the bitterness hidden under the languid 
student's exterior of every day, had, as it were, risen 
[ 287 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

to the surface. He stood at bay, against his friend, 
against himself. 

'No!' exclaimed Robert stoutly, 'I do not know 
you in the sense you mean. I do not know you as the 
man who could beguile a girl on to a confession of love, 
and then tell her that for you marriage was too 
great a burden to be faced ! ' 

Langham started, and then closed his lips in an 
iron silence. Robert repented him a little. Langham's 
strange individuality always impressed him against 
his will. 

' I did not come simply to reproach you, Langham, ' 
he went on, 'though I confess to being very hot! I 
came to try and find out for myself only, mind - 
whether what prevents you from following up what 
I understand happened last night is really a matter 
of feeling, or a matter of outward circumstance. If, 
upon reflexion, you find that your feeling for Rose is 
not what you imagined it to be, I shall have my own 
opinion about your conduct but I shall be the first 
to acquiesce in what you have done this morning. If, 
on the other hand, you are simply afraid of yourself 
in harness, and afraid of the. responsibilities of practi- 
cal married life, I cannot help begging you to talk the 
matter over with me, and let us face it together. 
Whether Rose would ever, under any circumstances, 
get over the shock of this morning I have not the 
remotest idea. But' - - and he hesitated - - 'it seems 
the feeling you appealed to yesterday has been of 
long growth. You know perfectly well what havoc a 
thing of this kind may make in a girl's life. I don't 
say it will. But, at any rate, it is all so desperately 
[ 288 ] 



ROSE 

serious I could not hold my hand. I am doing what 
is no doubt wholly unconventional; but I am your 
friend and her brother; I brought you together, and 
I ask you to take me into counsel. If you had but 
done it before!' 

There was a moment's dead silence. 

'You cannot pretend to believe/ said Langham at 
last, with the same sombre self-containedness, 'that 
a marriage with me would be for your sister-in-law's 
happiness?' 

'I don't know what to believe !' cried Robert. 'No,' 
he added frankly, ' no ; when I saw you first attracted 
by Rose at Murewell I disliked the idea heartily; I 
was glad to see you separated ; a priori, I never thought 
you suited to each other. But reasoning that holds 
good when a thing is wholly in the air looks very 
different when a man has committed himself and an- 
other, as you have done.' 

Langham surveyed him for a moment, then shook 
his hair impatiently from his eyes and rose from his 
bending position by the fire. 

'Elsmere, there is nothing to be said! I have be- 
haved as vilely as you please. I have forfeited your 
friendship. But I should be an even greater fiend and 
weakling than you think me if, in cold blood, I could 
let your sister run the risk of marrying me. I could 
not trust myself you may think of the statement 
as you like I should make her miserable. Last 
night I had not parted from her an hour before I 
was utterly and irrevocably sure of it. My habits are 
my masters. I believe,' he added slowly, his eyes 
fixed weirdly on something beyond Robert, 'I could 
[ 289 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

even grow to hate what came between me and 
them!' 

Was it the last word of the man's life? It struck 
Robert with a kind of shiver. 

'Pray Heaven/ he said with a groan, getting up to 
go, 'you may not have made her miserable already!' 

'Did it hurt her so much?' asked Langham, almost 
inaudibly, turning away, Robert's tone meanwhile 
calling up a new and scorching image in the subtle 
brain tissue. 

'I have not seen her/ said Robert abruptly; 'but 
when I came in I found my wife who has no light 
tears weeping for her sister/ 

His voice dropped as though what he were saying 
were in truth too pitiful and too intimate for speech. 

Langham said no more. His face had become a 
marble mask again. 

'Good-bye!' said Robert, taking up his hat with a 
dismal sense of having got foolishly through a fool's 
errand. 'As I said to you before, what Rose's feeling 
is at this moment I cannot even guess. Very likely 
she would be the first to repudiate half of what I have 
been saying. And I see that you will not talk to me 
you will not take me into your confidence and speak 
to me not only as her brother but as your friend. And 
and are you going? What does this mean?' 

He looked interrogatively at the open packing- 
cases. 

'I am going back to Oxford/ said the other briefly. 
'I cannot stay in these rooms, in these streets/ 

Robert was sore perplexed. What real nay, what 
terrible suffering in the face and manner, and yet 
[ 290 ] 



ROSE 

how futile, how needless! He felt himself wrestling 
with something intangible and phantom-like, wholly 
unsubstantial, and yet endowed with a ghastly in- 
definite power over human life. 

'It is very hard/ he said hurriedly, moving nearer, 
'that our old friendship should be crossed like this. 
Do trust me a little! You are always undervaluing 
yourself. Why not take a friend into council some- 
times when you sit in judgement on yourself and your 
possibilities? Your own perceptions are all warped!' 

Langham, looking at him, thought his smile one of 
the most beautiful and one of the most irrelevant 
things he had ever seen. 

'I will write to you, Elsmere/ he said, holding out 
his hand, 'speech is impossible to me. I never had any 
words except through my pen/ 

Robert gave it up. In another minute Langham was 
left alone. 

But he did no more packing for hours. He spent the 
middle of the day sitting dumb and immoveable in his 
chair. Imagination was at work again more feverishly 
than ever. He was tortured by a fixed image of Rose, 
suffering and paling. 

And after a certain number of hours he could no 
more bear the incubus of this thought than he could 
put up with the flat prospects of married life the night 
before. He was all at sea, barely sane, in fact. His life 
had been so long purely intellectual that this sudden 
strain of passion and fierce practical interests seemed 
to unhinge him, to destroy his mental balance. 

He bethought him. This afternoon he knew she had 
a last rehearsal at Searle House. Afterwards her cus- 
[ 291 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

torn was to come back from St. James's Park to High 
Street, Kensington, and walk up the hill to her own 
home. He knew it, for on two occasions after these 
rehearsals he had been at Lerwick Gardens, waiting for 
her, with Agnes and Mrs. Leyburn. Would she go this 
afternoon? A subtle instinct told him that she would. 

It was nearly six o'clock that evening when Rose, 
stepping out from the High Street station, crossed the 
main road and passed into the darkness of one of the 
streets leading up the hill. She had forced herself to go, 
and she would go alone. But as she toiled along she felt 
weary and bruised all over. She carried with her a 
heart of lead a sense of utter soreness a longing 
to hide herself from eyes and tongues. The only thing 
that dwelt softly in the shaken mind was a sort of 
inconsequent memory of Mr. Flaxman's manner at 
the rehearsal. Had she looked so ill? She flushed 
hotly at the thought, and then realised again, with a 
sense of childish comfort, the kind look and voice, the 
delicate care shown in shielding her from any un- 
necessary exertion, the brotherly grasp of the hand 
with which he had put her into the cab that took her 
to the Underground. 

Suddenly, where the road made a dark turn to the 
right, she saw a man standing. As she came nearer she 
saw that it was Langham. 

'You!' she cried, stopping. 

He came up to her. There was a light over the door- 
way of a large detached house not far off, which threw 
a certain illumination over him, though it left her in 
shadow. He said nothing, but he held out both his 
[ 292 ] 



ROSE 

hands mutely. She fancied rather than saw the pale 
emotion of his look. 

'What?' she said, after a pause. 'You think to- 
night is last night ! You and I have nothing to say to 
each other, Mr. Langham.' 

'I have everything to say/ he answered, under his 
breath; 'I have committed a crime a villainy/ 

'And it is not pleasant to you?' she said, quivering. 
' I am sorry I cannot help you. But you are wrong 
- it was no crime it was necessary and profitable, 
like the doses of one's childhood ! Oh ! I might have 
guessed you would do this ! No, Mr. Langham, I am in 
no danger of an interesting decline. I have just played 
my concerto very fairly. I shall not disgrace myself at 
the concert to-morrow night. You may be at peace 
I have learnt several things to-day that have been 
salutary very salutary/ 

She paused. He walked beside her while she pelted 
him unresisting, helplessly silent. 

'Don't come any farther,' she said resolutely after a 
minute, turning to face him. 'Let us be quits ! I was a 
temptingly easy prey. I bear no malice. And do not 
let me break your friendship with Robert ; that began 
before this foolish business it should outlast it. 
Very likely we shall be friends again, like ordinary 
people, some day. I do not imagine your wound is very 
deep, and 

But no ! Her lips closed ; not even for pride's sake, 
and retort's sake, will she desecrate the past, belittle 
her own first love. 

She held out her hand. It was very dark. He could 
see nothing among her furs but the gleaming whiteness 
[ 293 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

of her face. The whole personality seemed centred in 
the voice the half -mocking vibrating voice. He took 
her hand and dropped it instantly. 

'You do not understand/ he said hopelessly feel- 
ing as though every phrase he uttered, or could utter, 
were equally fatuous, equally shameful. 'Thank 
Heaven, you will never understand/ 

'I think I do/ she said, with a change of tone, and 
paused. He raised his eyes involuntarily, met hers, 
and stood bewildered. What was the expression in 
them? It was yearning but not the yearning of 
passion. ' If things had been different if one could 
change the self if the past were nobler ! ' - - was that 
the cry of them? A painful humility a boundless 
pity the rise of some moral wave within her he could 
neither measure nor explain these were some of the 
impressions which passed from her to him. A fresh 
gulf opened between them, and he saw her transformed 
on the farther side, with, as it were, a loftier gesture, 
a nobler stature, than had ever yet been hers. 

He bent forward quickly, caught her hands, held 
them for an instant to his lips in a convulsive grasp, 
dropped them, and was gone. 

He gained his own room again. There lay the medley 
of his books, his only friends, his real passion. Why 
had he ever tampered with any other? 

'It was not love not love!' he said to himself, with 
an accent of infinite relief as he sank into his chair. 
'Her smart will heal/ 



BOOK VI 

NEW OPENINGS 



* 

w 

I 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

TEN days after Langham's return to Oxford, Elsmere 
received a characteristic letter from him, asking 
whether their friendship was to be considered as still 
existing or at an end. The calm and even proud mel- 
ancholy of the letter showed a considerable subsid- 
ence of that state of half-frenzied irritation and 
discomfort in which Elsmere had last seen him. The 
writer, indeed, was clearly settling down into another 
period of pessimistic quietism such as that which had 
followed upon his first young efforts at self-assertion 
years before. But this second period bore the marks 
of an even profounder depression of all the vital forces 
than the first, and as Elsmere, with a deep sigh, half- 
angry, half -relenting, put down the letter, he felt the 
conviction that no fresh influence from outside would 
ever again be allowed to penetrate the solitude of 
Langham's life. In comparison with the man who had 
just addressed him, the tutor of his undergraduate 
recollection was a vigorous and sociable human being. 
The relenting grew upon him, and he wrote a sensible 
affectionate letter in return. Whatever had been his 
natural feelings of resentment, he said, he could not 
realise, now that the crisis was past, that he cared 
less about his old friend. 'As far as we two are con- 
cerned, let us forget it all. I could hardly say this, you 
will easily imagine, if I thought that you had done 
serious or irreparable harm. But both my wife and I 
[ 297 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

agree now in thinking that by a pure accident, as it 
were, and to her own surprise, Rose has escaped either. 
It will be some time, no doubt, before she will admit 
it. A girl is not so easily disloyal to her past. 
But to us it is tolerably clear. At any rate, I send you 
our opinion for what it is worth, believing that it will 
and must be welcome to you/ 

Rose, however, was not so long in admitting it. One 
marked result of that new vulnerableness of soul pro- 
duced in her by the shock of that February morning 
was a great softening towards Catherine. Whatever 
might have been Catherine's intense relief when 
Robert returned from his abortive mission, she never 
afterwards let a disparaging word towards Langham 
escape her lips to Rose. She was tenderness and 
sympathy itself, and Rose, in her curious reaction 
against her old self, and against the noisy world of 
flattery and excitement in which she had been living, 
turned to Catherine as she had never done since she 
was a tiny child. She would spend hours in a corner 
of the Bedford Square drawing-room, pretending to 
read, or play with little Mary, in reality recovering, 
like some bruised and trodden plant, under the healing 
influence of thought and silence. 

One day, when they were alone in the firelight, 'she 
startled Catherine by saying with one of her old odd 
smiles - 

'Do you know, Cathie, how I always see myself 
nowadays? It is a sort of hallucination. I see a girl 
at the foot of a precipice. She has had a fall, and she 
is sitting up, feeling all her limbs. And, to her great 
astonishment, there is no bone broken ! ' 
[ 298 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

And she held herself back from Catherine's knee lest 
her sister should attempt to caress her, her eyes bright 
and calm. Nor would she allow an answer, drowning 
all that Catherine might have said in a sudden rush 
after the child, who was wandering round them in 
search of a playfellow. 

In truth, Rose Leyburn's girlish passion for Edward 
Langham had been a kind of accident unrelated to the 
main forces of character. He had crossed her path in 
a moment of discontent, of aimless revolt and longing, 
when she was but fresh emerged from the cramping 
conditions of her childhood and trembling on the brink 
of new and unknown activities. His intellectual pres- 
tige, his melancholy, his personal beauty, his very 
strangenesses and weaknesses, had made a deep im- 
pression on the girl's immature romantic sense. His 
resistance had increased the charm, and the interval 
of angry resentful separation had done nothing to 
weaken it. As to the months in London, they had been 
one long duel between herself and him a duel which 
had all the fascination of difficulty and uncertainty, 
but in which pride and caprice had dealt and sustained 
a large proportion of the blows. Then, after a moment 
of intoxicating victory, Langham's endangered habits 
and threatened individuality had asserted themselves 
once for all. And from the whole long struggle 
passion, exultation, and crushing defeat it often 
seemed to her that she had gained neither joy nor 
irreparable grief, but a new birth of character, a soul ! 

It may be easily imagined that Hugh Flaxman felt 
a peculiarly keen interest in Langham's disappearance. 
On the afternoon of the Searle House rehearsal he had 
[ 299 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

awaited Rose's coming in a state of extraordinary 
irritation. He expected a blushing fiancee, in a fool's 
paradise, asking by manner, if not by word, for his 
congratulations, and taking a decent feminine pleasure 
perhaps in the pang she might suspect in him. And 
he had already taken his pleasure in the planning of 
some double-edged congratulations. 

Then up the steps of the concert platform there 
came a pale tired girl, who seemed specially to avoid 
his look, who found a quiet corner and said hardly a 
word to anybody till her turn came to play. 

His revulsion of feeling was complete. After her 
piece he made his way up to her, and was her watch- 
ful unobtrusive guardian for the rest of the after- 
noon. 

He walked home after he had put her into her cab 
in a whirl of impatient conjecture. 

'As compared to last night, she looks this afternoon 
as if she had had an illness ! What on earth has that 
philandering ass been about? If he did not propose to 
her last night, he ought to be shot and if he did, 
a fortiori, for clearly she is miserable. But what a brave 
child! How she played her part! I wonder whether 
she thinks that / saw nothing, like all the rest ! Poor 
little cold hand!' 

Next day in the street he met Elsmere, turned and 
walked with him, and by dint of leading the con- 
versation a little discovered that Langham had left 
London. 

Gone ! But not without a crisis that was evident. 
During the din of preparations for the Searle House 
concert, and during the meetings which it entailed, 
[ 300 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

now at the Varleys', now at the house of some other 
connexion of his for the concert was the work of his 
friends, and given in the town house of his decrepit 
great-uncle, Lord Daniel he had many opportun- 
ities of observing Rose. And he felt a soft indefinable 
change in her which kept him in a perpetual answering 
vibration of sympathy and curiosity. She seemed to 
him for the moment to have lost her passionate relish 
for living, that relish which had always been so marked 
with her. Her bubble of social pleasure was pricked. 
She did everything she had to do, and did it admir- 
ably. But all through she was to his fancy absent and 
distraite, pursuing through the tumult of which she 
was often the central figure some inner meditations 
of which neither he nor any one else knew anything. 
Some eclipse had passed over the girl's light self- 
satisfied temper; some searching thrill of experience 
had gone through the whole nature. She had suffered, 
and she was quietly fighting down her suffering with- 
out a word to anybody. 

Flaxman's guesses as to what had happened came 
often very near the truth, and the mixture of indigna- 
tion and relief with which he received his own conjec- 
tures amused himself. 

'To think/ he said to himself once, with a long 
breath, 'that that creature was never at a public 
school, and will go to his death without any one of the 
kickings due to him!' 

Then his very next impulse, perhaps, would be an 
impulse of gratitude towards this same 'creature/ 
towards the man who had released a prize he had had 
the tardy sense to see was not meant for him. Free 

[ 301 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

again to be loved, to be won ! There was the fact of 
facts after all. 

His own future policy, however, gave him much 
anxious thought. Clearly at present the one thing to 
be done was to keep his own ambitions carefully out 
of sight. He had the skill to see that she was in a state 
of reaction, of moral and mental fatigue. What she 
mutely seemed to ask of her friends was not to be 
made to feel. 

He took his cue accordingly. He talked to his sister. 
He kept Lady Charlotte in order. After all her eager 
expectation on Hugh's behalf, Lady Helen had been 
dumfoundered by the sudden emergence of Langham 
at Lady Charlotte's party for their common discom- 
fiture. Who was the man? why, what did it all 
mean? Hugh had the most provoking way of giving 
you half his confidence. To tell you he was seriously in 
love, and to omit to add the trifling item that the girl 
in question was probably on the point of engaging her- 
self to somebody else ! Lady Helen made believe to be 
angry, and it was not till she had reduced Hugh to a 
whimsical penitence and a full confession of all he 
knew or suspected, that she consented, with as much 
loftiness as the physique of an elf allowed her, to be 
his good friend again, and to play those cards for him 
which at the moment he could not play for himself. 

So in the cheeriest daintiest way Rose was made 
much of by both brother and sister. Lady Helen 
chatted of gowns and music and people, whisked Rose 
and Agnes off to this party and that, brought fruit and 
flowers to Mrs. Leyburn, made pretty deferential love 
to Catherine, and generally, to Mrs. Pierson's disgust, 
[ 302 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

became the girls' chief chaperon in a fast-filling 
London. Meanwhile, Mr. Flaxman was always there 
to befriend or amuse his sister's protegees always 
there, but never in the way. He was bantering, sym- 
pathetic, critical, laudatory, what you will ; but all the 
time he preserved a delicate distance between himself 
and Rose, a bright nonchalance and impersonality of 
tone towards her which made his companionship a 
perpetual tonic. And, between them, he and Helen 
coerced Lady Charlotte. A few inconvenient inquiries 
after Rose's health, a few unexplained stares and 
'humphs' and grunts, a few irrelevant disquisitions on 
her nephew's merits of head and heart, were all she was 
able to allow herself. And yet she was inwardly seeth- 
ing with a mass of sentiments, to which it would have 
been pleasant to give expression anger with Rose 
for having been so blind and so presumptuous as to 
prefer some one else to Hugh ; anger with Hugh for his 
persistent disregard of her advice and the duke's feel- 
ings ; and a burning desire to know the precise why and 
wherefore of Langham's disappearance. She was too 
lofty to become Rose's aunt without a struggle, but 
she was not too lofty to feel the hungriest interest in 
her love-affairs. 

But, as we have said, the person who for the time 
profited most by Rose's shaken mood was Catherine. 
The girl coming over, restless under her own smart, 
would fall to watching the trial of the woman and the 
wife, and would often perforce forget herself and her 
smaller woes in the pity of it. She stayed in Bedford 
Square once for a week, and then for the first time she 
[ 303 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

realised the profound change which had passed over 
the Elsmeres' life. As much tenderness between hus- 
band and wife as ever perhaps more expression of 
it even than before, as though from an instinctive 
craving to hide the separateness below from each other 
and from the world. But Robert went his way, Cath- 
erine hers. Their spheres of work lay far apart ; their 
interests were diverging fast; and though Robert at 
any rate was perpetually resisting, all sorts of fresh 
invading silences were always coming in to limit talk, 
and increase the number of sore points which each 
avoided. Robert was hard at work in the East End 
under Murray Edwardes's auspices. He was already 
known to certain circles as a seceder from the Church 
who was likely to become both powerful and popular. 
Two articles of his in the Nineteenth Century, on dis- 
puted points of Biblical criticism, had distinctly made 
their mark, and several of the veterans of philosophical 
debate had already taken friendly and flattering notice 
of the new writer. Meanwhile Catherine was teaching 
in Mr. Clarendon's Sunday-school, and attending his 
prayer-meetings. The more expansive Robert's ener- 
gies became, the more she suffered, and the more the 
small daily opportunities for friction multiplied. Soon 
she could hardly bear to hear him talk about his work, 
and she never opened the number of the Nineteenth 
Century which contained his papers. Nor had he the 
heart to ask her to read them. 

Murray Edwardes had received Elsmere, on his first 
appearance in R , with a cordiality and a helpful- 
ness of the most self-effacing kind. Robert had begun 
with assuring his new friend that he saw no chance, 
[ 304 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

at any rate for the present, of his formally joining the 
Unitarians. 

'I have not the heart to pledge myself again just 
yet ! And I own I look rather for a combination from 
many sides than for the development of any now 
existing sect. But supposing/ he added, smiling, 'sup- 
posing I do in time set up a congregation and a service 
of my own, is there really room for you and me? 
Should I not be infringing on a work I respect a great 
deal too much for anything of the sort?' 

Edwardes laughed the notion to scorn. 

The parish, as a whole, contained twenty thousand 
persons. The existing churches, which, with the ex- 
ception of St. Wilfrid's, were miserably attended, 
provided accommodation at the outside for three thou- 
sand. His own chapel held four hundred, and was 
about half full. 

'You and I may drop our lives here/ he said, his 
pleasant friendliness darkened for a moment by the 
look of melancholy which London work seems to 
develop even in the most buoyant of men, 'and only 
a few hundred persons, at the most, be ever the wiser. 
Begin with us then make your own circle/ 

And he forthwith carried off his visitor to the point 
from which, as it seemed to him, Elsmere's work might 
start, viz., a lecture-room half a mile from his own 
chapel, where two helpers of his had just established 
an independent venture. 

Murray Edwardes had at the time an interesting 

and miscellaneous staff of lay-curates. He asked no 

questions as to religious opinions, but in general the 

men who volunteered under him civil servants, a 

[ 305 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

young doctor, a briefless barrister or two were men 
who had drifted from received beliefs, and found a 
pleasure and freedom in working for and with him 
they could hardly have found elsewhere. The two who 
had planted their outpost in what seemed to them a 
particularly promising corner of the district were men 
of whom Edwardes knew personally little. 'I have 
really not much concern with what they do/ he ex- 
plained to Elsmere, 'except that they get a small 
share of our funds. But I know they want help, and 
if they will take you in, I think you will make some- 
thing of it.' 

After a tramp through the muddy winter streets, 
they came upon a new block of warehouses, in the 
lower windows of which some bills announced a night- 
school for boys and men. Here, to judge from the 
commotion round the doors, a lively scene was going 
on. Outside, a gang of young roughs were hammering 
at the doors, and shrieking witticisms through the 
keyhole. Inside, as soon as Murray Edwardes and 
Elsmere, by dint of good-humour and strong shoulders, 
had succeeded in shoving their way through and shut- 
ting the door behind them, they found a still more 
animated performance in progress. The schoolroom 
was in almost total darkness ; the pupils, some twenty 
in number, were racing about, like so many shadowy 
demons, pelting each other and their teachers with 
the ' dips' which, as the buildings were new, and not 
yet fitted for gas, had. been provided to light them 
through their three R's. In the middle stood the two 
philanthropists they were in search of, freely bedaubed 
with tallow, one employed in boxing a boy's ears, the 
f 306 1 



NEW OPENINGS 

other in saving a huge inkbottle whereon some enter- 
prising spirit had just laid hands by way of varying 
the rebel ammunition. Murray Edwardes, who was 
in his element, went to the rescue at once, helped by 
Robert. The boy-minister, as he looked, had been, in 
fact, 'bow' of the Cambridge Eight, and possessed 
muscles which men twice his size might have envied. 
In three minutes he had put a couple of ringleaders 
into the street by the scruff of the neck, relit a lamp 
which had been turned out, and got the rest of the 
rioters in hand. Elsmere backed him ably, and in a 
very short time they had cleared the premises. 

Then the four looked at each other, and Edwardes 
went off into a shout of laughter. 

'My dear Wardlaw, my condolences to your coat! 
But I don't believe if I were a rough myself I could 
resist "dips." Let me introduce a friend Mr. Els- 
mere and if you will have him, a recruit for your 
work. It seems to me another pair of arms will hardly 
come amiss to you ! ' 

The shflrt red-haired man addressed shook hands 
with Elsmere, scrutinising him from under bushy eye- 
brows. He was panting and beplastered with tal- 
low, but the inner man was evidently quite unruffled, 
and Elsmere liked the shrewd Scotch face and grey 
eyes. 

' It is n't only a pair of arms we want/ he remarked 
drily, 'but a bit of science behind them. Mr. Elsmere, 
I observed, can use his/ 

Then he turned to a tall affected-looking youth with 
a large nose and long fair hair, who stood gasping with 
his hands upon his sides, his eyes, full of a moody 
[ 307 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

wrath, fixed on the wreck and disarray of the school- 
room. 

'Well, Mackay, have they knocked the wind out of 
you? My friend and helper Mr. Elsmere. Come 
and sit down, won't you, a minute. They ' ve left us the 
chairs, I perceive, and there's a spark or two of fire. 
Do you smoke? Will you light up? 7 

The four men sat on chatting some time, and then 
Wardlaw and Elsmere walked home together. It had 
been all arranged. Mackay, a curious morbid fellow, 
who had thrown himself into Unitarianism and charity 
mainly out of opposition to an orthodox and bourgeois 
family, and who had a great idea of his own social 
powers, was somewhat grudging and ungracious 
through it all. But Elsmere's proposals were much too 
good to be refused. He offered to bring to the under- 
taking his time, his clergyman's experience, and as 
much money as might be wanted. Wardlaw listened 
to him cautiously for an hour, took stock of the whole 
man physically and morally, and finally said, as he 
very quietly and deliberately knocked the ashes out 
of his pipe, - 

'All right, I'm your man, Mr. Elsmere. If Mackay 
agrees, I vote we make you captain of this venture.' 

'Nothing of the sort/ said Elsmere. 'In London 
I am a novice; I come to learn, not to lead.' 

Wardlaw shook his head with a little shrewd smile. 
Mackay faintly endorsed his companion's offer, and 
the party broke up. 

That was in January. In two months from that 
time, by the natural force of things, Elsmere, in spite 
of diffidence and his own most sincere wish to avoid 
[ 308 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

a premature leadership, had become the head and 
heart of the Elgood Street undertaking, which had 
already assumed much larger proportions. Wardlaw 
was giving him silent approval and invaluable help, 
while young Mackay was in the first uncomfortable 
stages of a hero-worship which promised to be exceed- 
ingly good for him. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

I HERE were one or two curious points connected with 

the beginnings of Elsmere's venture in North R , 

one of which may just be noticed here. Wardlaw, his 
predecessor and colleague, had speculatively little or 
nothing in common with Elsmere or Murray Edwardes. 
He was a devoted and orthodox Comtist, for whom 
Edwardes had provided an outlet for the philanthropic 
passion, as he had for many others belonging to far 
stranger and remoter faiths. 

By profession he was a barrister, with a small and 
struggling practice. On this practice, however, he 
had married, and his wife, who had been a doctor's 
daughter and a national school-mistress, had the same 
ardours as himself. They lived in one of the dismal 
little squares near the Goswell Road, and had two 
children. The wife, as a Positivist mother is bound to 
do, tended and taught her children entirely herself. 
She might have been seen any day wheeling their 
perambulator through the dreary streets of a dreary 
region ; she was their Providence, their deity, the repre- 
sentative to them of all tenderness and all authority. 
But when her work with them was done, she would 
throw herself into charity organisation cases, into 
efforts for the protection of workhouse servants, into 
the homeliest acts of ministry towards the sick, till 
her dowdy little figure and her face, which but for the 
stress of London, of labour, and of poverty, would 
[ 310 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

have had a blunt fresh-coloured dairymaid's charm , 
became symbols of a Divine and sacred helpfulness in 
the eyes of hundreds of straining men and women. 

The husband also, after a day spent in chambers, 
would give his evenings to teaching or committee 
work. They never allowed themselves to breathe even 
to each other that life might have brighter things to 
show them than the neighbourhood of the Goswell 
Road. There was a certain narrowness in their devo- 
tion; they had their bitternesses and ignorances like 
other people; but the more Robert knew of them the 
more profound became his admiration for that potent 
spirit of social help which in our generation Comtism 
has done so much to develop, even among those 
of us who are but moderately influenced by Comte's 
philosophy, and can make nothing of the religion of 
Humanity. 

Wardlaw has no large part in the story of Elsmere's 

work in North R . In spite of Robert's efforts, and 

against his will, the man of meaner gifts and commoner 
clay was eclipsed by that brilliant and persuasive 
something in Elsmere which a kind genius had infused 
into him at birth. And we shall see that in time 
Robert's energies took a direction which Wardlaw 
could not follow with any heartiness. But at the 
beginning Elsmere owed him much, and it was a debt 
he was never tired of honouring. 

In the first place, Wardlaw 's choice of the Elgood 
Street room as a fresh centre for civilising effort had 
been extremely shrewd. The district lying about it, 
as Robert soon came to know, contained a number of 
promising elements. 

[ 311 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Close by the dingy street which sheltered their 
schoolroom rose the great pile of a new factory of 
artistic pottery, a rival on the north side of the river 
to Doulton's immense works on the south. The old 
winding streets near it, and the blocks of workmen's 
dwellings recently erected under its shadow, were 
largely occupied by the workers in its innumerable 
floors, and among these workers was a large propor- 
tion of skilled artisans, men often of a considerable 
amount of cultivation, earning high wages, and main- 
taining a high standard of comfort. A great many of 
them, trained in the art school which Murray Ed- 
wardes had been largely instrumental in establishing 
within easy distance of their houses, were men of 
genuine artistic gifts and accomplishment, and as 
the development of one faculty tends on the whole 
to set others working, when Robert, after a few 
weeks' work in the place, set up a popular historical 
lecture once a fortnight, announcing the fact by a 
blue-and-white poster in the schoolroom windows, 
it was the potters who provided him with his first 
hearers. 

The rest of the parish was divided between a pop- 
ulation of dock labourers, settled there to supply the 
needs of the great dock which ran up into the south- 
eastern corner of it, two or three huge breweries, and a 
colony of watchmakers, an offshoot of Clerkenwell, who 
lived together in two or three streets, and showed the 
same peculiarities of race and specialised training to 
be noticed in the more northerly settlement from which 
they had been thrown off like a swarm from a hive. 
Outside these well-defined trades there was, of course, 
[ 312 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

a warehouse population, and a mass of heterogeneous 
cadging and catering which went on chiefly in the 
riverside streets at the other side of the parish from 
Elgood Street, in the neighbourhood of St. Wilfrid's. 

St. Wilfrid's at this moment seemed to Robert to be 
doing a very successful work among the lowest strata 
of the parish. From them at one end of the scale, and 
from the innumerable clerks and superintendents who 
during the daytime crowded the vast warehouses of 
which the district was full, its Lenten congregations, 
now in full activity, were chiefly drawn. 

The Protestant opposition, which had shown itself 
so brutally and persistently in old days, was now, so 
far as outward manifestations went, all but extinct. 
The cassocked monk-like clergy might preach and 
'process' in the open air as much as they pleased. 
The populace, where it was not indifferent, was 
friendly, and devoted living had borne its natural 
fruits. 

A small incident, which need not be recorded, re- 
called to Elsmere's mind after he had been working 
some six weeks in the district the forgotten un- 
welcome fact that St. Wilfrid's was the very church 
where Newcome, first as senior curate and then as 
vicar, had spent those ten wonderful years into which 
Elsmere at Murewell had been never tired of inquiring. 
The thought of Newcome was a very sore thought. 
Elsmere had written to him announcing his resigna- 
tion of his living immediately after his interview with 
the bishop. The letter had remained unanswered, and 
it was by now tolerably clear that the silence of its 
recipient meant a withdrawal from all friendly rela- 
I 313 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

tions with the writer. Elsmere 's affectionate sensitive 
nature took such things hardly, especially as he knew 
that Newcome's life was becoming increasingly dif- 
ficult and embittered. And it gave him now a fresh 
pang to imagine how Newcome would receive the 
news of his quondam friend 's ' infidel propaganda/ 
established on the very ground where he himself 
had all but died for those beliefs Elsmere had thrown 
over. 

But Robert was learning a certain hardness in this 
London life which was not without its uses to charac- 
ter. Hitherto he had always swum with the stream, 
cheered by the support of all the great and prevailing 
English traditions. Here, he and his few friends were 
fighting a solitary fight apart from the organised 
system of English religion and English philanthropy. 
All the elements of culture and religion already exist- 
ing in the place were against them. The clergy of St. 
Wilfrid's passed them with cold averted eyes; the old 
and faineant rector of the parish church very soon let 
it be known what he thought as to the taste of Els- 
mere's intrusion on his parish, or as to the eternal 
chances of those who might take either him or Ed- 
wardes as guides in matters religious. His enmity did 
Elgood Street no harm, and the pretensions of the 
Church, in this Babel of twenty thousand souls, to 
cover the whole field, bore clearly no relation at all to 
the facts. But every little incident in this new struggle 
of his life cost Elsmere more perhaps than it would 
have cost other men. No part of it came easily to 
him. Only a high Utopian vision drove him on from 
day to day, bracing him to act and judge, if need be, 
[ 314 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

alone and for himself, approved only by conscience 
and the inward voice. 

' Tasks in hours of insight willed 
Can be in hours of gloom fulfilled'; 

and it was that moment by the river which worked in 
him through all the prosaic and perplexing details of 
this new attempt to carry enthusiasm into life. 

It was soon plain to him that in this teeming section 
of London the chance of the religious reformer lay 
entirely among the upper working class. In London, 
at any rate, all that is most prosperous and intelli- 
gent among the working class holds itself aloof - 
broadly speaking from all existing spiritual agen- 
cies, whether of Church or Dissent. 

Upon the genuine London artisan the Church has 
practically no hold whatever ; and Dissent has nothing 
like the hold which it has on similar material in the 
great towns of the North. Towards religion in general 
the prevailing attitude is one of indifference tinged 
with hostility. 'Eight hundred thousand people in 
South London, of whom the enormous proportion be- 
long to the working class, and among them, Church 
and Dissent nowhere Christianity not in possession.' 
Such is the estimate of an Evangelical of our day ; and 
similar laments come from all parts of the capital. 
The Londoner is on the whole more conceited, more 
prejudiced, more given over to crude theorising, than 
his North-country brother, the mill-hand, whose mere 
position, as one of a homogeneous and tolerably con- 
stant body, subjects him to a continuous discipline 
of intercourse and discussion. Our popular religion, 
F 315 1 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

broadly speaking, means nothing to him. He is sharp 
enough to see through its contradictions and absurd- 
ities; he has no dread of losing what he never valued ; 
his sense of antiquity, of history, is nil; and his life 
supplies him with excitement enough without the 
stimulants of ' other- worldliness.' Religion has been 
on the whole irrationally presented to him, and the 
result on his part has been an irrational breach with 
the whole moral and religious order of ideas. 

But the race is quick-witted and imaginative. The 
Greek cities which welcomed and spread Christianity 
carried within them much the same elements as are 
supplied by certain sections of the London working 
class elements of restlessness, of sensibility, of pas- 
sion. The mere intermingling of races, which a modern 
capital shares with those old towns of Asia Minor, pre- 
disposes the mind to a greater openness and receptive- 
ness, whether for good or evil. / 

As the weeks passed on, and after the first inevit- 
able despondency produced by strange surroundings 
and an unwonted isolation had begun to wear off, 
Robert often found himself filled with a strange flame 
and ardour of hope ! But his first steps had nothing to 
do with religion. He made himself quickly felt in the 
night-school, and as soon as he possibly could he hired 
a large room at the back of their existing room, on the 
same floor, where, on the recreation evenings, he 
might begin the story-telling, which had been so great 
a success at Murewell. The story-telling struck the 
neighbourhood as a great novelty. At first only a 
few youths straggled in from the front room, where 
dominoes and draughts and the illustrated papers 
[ 316 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

held seductive sway. The next night the number was 
increased, and by the fourth or fifth evening the room 
was so well filled both by boys and a large contingent 
of artisans, that it seemed well to appoint a special 
evening in the week for story-telling, or the recreation 
room would have been deserted. 

In these performances Elsmere's aim had always 
been twofold the rousing of moral sympathy and 
the awakening of the imaginative power pure and 
simple. He ranged the whole world for stories. Some- 
times it would be merely some feature of London life 
itself the history of a great fire, for instance, and 
its hairbreadth escapes; a collision in the river; a 
string of instances as true and homely and realistic as 
they could be made of the way in which the poor help 
one another. Sometimes it would be stories illustrating 
the dangers and difficulties of particular trades a 
colliery explosion and the daring of the rescuers; in- 
cidents from the life of the great Northern iron- works, 
or from that of the Lancashire factories ; or stories of 
English country life and its humours, given sometimes 
in dialect Devonshire, or Yorkshire, or Cumber- 
land for which he had a special gift. Or, again, he 
would take the sea and its terrors the immortal 
story of the Birkenhead; the deadly plunge of the 
Captain; the records of the lifeboats, or the fascinating 
story of the ships of science, exploring step by step, 
through miles of water, the past, the inhabitants, the 
hills and valleys of that underworld, that vast Atlantic 
bed, in which Mont Blanc might be buried without 
showing even his topmost snowfield above the plain 
of waves. Then at other times it would be the simple 
[ 317 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

fro ic and fancy of fiction fairy-tale and legend, 
Greek myth or Icelandic saga, episodes from Walter 
Scott, from Cooper, from Dumas ; to be followed per- 
haps on the next evening by the terse and vigorous 
biography of some man of the people of Stephenson 
or Cobden, of Thomas Cooper or John Bright, or even 
of Thomas Carlyle. 

One evening, some weeks after it had begun, Hugh 
Flaxman, hearing from Rose of the success of the ex- 
periment, went down to hear his new acquaintance tell 
the story of Monte Cristo's escape from the Chateau 
d'lf. He started an hour earlier than was necessary, 
and with an admirable impartiality he spent that hour 
at St. Wilfrid's hearing vespers. Flaxman had a pas- 
sion for intellectual or social novelty ; and this passion 
was beguiling him into a close observation of Elsmere. 
At the same time he was crossed and complicated by 
all sorts of fastidious conservative fibres, and when 
his friends talked rationalism, it often gave him a 
vehement pleasure to maintain that a good Catholic 
or Ritualist service was worth all their arguments, 
and would outlast them. His taste drew him to the 
Church, so did a love of opposition to current 'isms/ 
Bishops counted on him for subscriptions, and High 
Church divines sent him their pamphlets. He never 
refused the subscriptions, but it should be added that 
with equal regularity he dropped the pamphlets into 
his waste-paper basket. Altogether a not very de- 
cipherable person in religious matters as Rose had 
already discovered. 

The change from the dim and perfumed spaces of 
St. Wilfrid's to the bare warehouse room with its 
[ 318 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

packed rows of listeners was striking enough. Here 
were no bowed figures, no recueillement. In the blaze 
of crude light every eager eye was fixed upon the 
slight elastic figure on the platform, each change in 
the expressive face, each gesture of the long arms and 
thin flexible hands, finding its response in the laughter, 
the attentive silence, the frowning suspense of the 
audience. At one point a band of young roughs at the 
back made a disturbance, but their neighbours had 
the offenders quelled and out in a twinkling, and the 
room cried out for a repetition of the sentences which 
had been lost in the noise. When Dantes, opening his 
knife with his teeth, managed to cut the strings of 
the sack, a gasp of relief ran through the crowd ; when 
at last he reached terra firma there was a ringing 
cheer. 

'What is he, d'ye know?' Flaxman heard a me- 
chanic ask his neighbour, as Robert paused for a 
moment to get breath, the man jerking a grimy thumb 
in the story-teller's direction meanwhile. 'Seems like 
a parson somehow. But he ain't a parson.' 

'Not he,' said the other laconically. 'Knows better. 
Most of 'em as comes down 'ere stuffs all they have 
to say as full of goody-goody as an egg's full of meat. 
If he wur that sort you would n't catch me here. 
Never heard him say anything in the "dear brethren" 
sort of style, and I 've been 'ere most o' these evenings 
and to his lectures besides/ 

'Perhaps he's one of your d d sly ones,' said the 
first speaker dubiously. 'Means to shovel it in by 
and by.' 

'Well, I don't know as I could n't stand it if he did/ 
[ 319 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

returned his companion. 'He'd let other fellers have 
their say, anyhow/ 

Flaxman looked curiously at the speaker. He was 
a young man, a gasfitter to judge by the contents 
of the basket he seemed to have brought in with him 
on his way from work with eyes like live birds', 
and small emaciated features. During the story Flax- 
man had noticed the man's thin begrimed hand, as it 
rested on the bench in front of him, trembling with 
excitement. 

Another project of Robert's, started as soon as he 
had felt his way a little in the district, was the scientific 
Sunday-school. This was the direct result of a para- 
graph in Huxley's Lay Sermons, where the hint of 
such a school was first thrown out. However, since 
the introduction of science teaching into the Board 
schools, the novelty and necessity of such a supple- 
ment to a child's ordinary education is not what it 
was. Robert set it up mainly for the sake of drawing 
the boys out of the streets in the afternoons, and pro- 
viding them with some other food for fancy and de- 
light than larking and smoking and penny-dreadfuls. 
A little simple chemical and electrical experiment went 
down greatly ; so did a botany class, to which Elsmere 
would come armed with two stores of flowers, one to 
be picked to pieces, the other to be distributed accord- 
ing to memory and attention. A year before he had 
had a number of large coloured plates of tropical fruit 
and flowers prepared for him by a Kew assistant. 
These he would often set up on a large screen, or put 
up on the walls, till the dingy schoolroom became 
a bower of superb blossom and luxuriant leaf, a glow 
[ 320 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

of red and purple and orange. And then f still by 
the help of pictures he would take his class on a 
tour through strange lands, talking to them of China 
or Egypt or South America, till they followed him up 
the Amazon, or into the pyramids or through the 
Pampas, or into the mysterious buried cities of Mexico, 
as the children of Hamelin followed the magic of the 
Pied Piper. 

Hardly any of those who came to him, adults or 
children, while almost all of the artisan class, were of 
the poorest class. He knew it, and had laid his plans 
for such a result. Such work as he had at heart has 
no chance with the lowest in the social scale, in its 
beginnings. It must have something to work upon, 
and must penetrate downwards. He only can receive 
who already hath there is no profounder axiom. 

And meanwhile the months passed on, and he was 
still brooding, still waiting. At last the spark fell. 

There, in the next street but one to Elgood Street, 

rose the famous Workmen's Club of North R . It 

had been started by a former Liberal clergyman of 
the parish, whose main object, however, had been to 
train the workmen to manage it for themselves. His 
training had been, in fact, too successful. Not only 
was it now wholly managed by artisans, but it had 
come to be a centre of active, nay, brutal, opposition 
to the Church and faith which had originally fostered 
it. In organic connexion with it was a large debating- 
hall, in which the most notorious secularist lecturers 
held forth every Sunday evening ; and next door to it, 
under its shadow and patronage, was a little dingy 
shop filled to overflowing with the coarsest freethink- 
[ 321 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ing pub ications, Colonel Ingersoll's books occupying 
the place of honour in the window and the Freethinker 
placard flaunting at the door. Inside there was still 
more highly seasoned literature even than the Free- 
thinker to be had. There was in particular a small 
halfpenny paper which was understood to be in some 
sense the special organ of the North R - Club; 
which was at any rate published close by, and edited 
by one of the workmen founders of the club. This 
unsavoury sheet began to be more and more defiantly 
advertised through the parish as Lent drew on towards 
Passion Week, and the exertions of St. Wilfrid's and 
of the other churches, which were being spurred on by 
the Ritualists' success, became more apparent. Soon 
it seemed to Robert that every bit of boarding and 
every waste wall was filled with the announcement : - 

'Read Faith and Fools. Enormous success. Our 
Comic Life of Christ now nearly completed. Quite the 
best thing of its kind going. Woodcut this week- 
Transfiguration. ' 

His heart grew fierce within him. One night in 
Passion Week he left the night-school about ten o'clock. 
His way led him past the club, which was brilliantly 
lit up, and evidently in full activity. Round the door 
there was a knot of workmen lounging. It was a mild 
moonlit April night, and the air was pleasant. Several 
of them had copies of Faith and Fools, and were show- 
ing the week's woodcut to those about them, with 
chuckles and spirts of laughter. 

Robert caught a few words as he hurried past them, 
and stirred by a sudden impulse turned into the shop 
beyond, and asked for the paper. The woman handed 
F 322 1 



NEW OPENINGS 

it to him, and gave him his change with a business- 
like sang-froid, which struck on his tired nerves almost 
more painfully than the laughing brutality of the men 
he had just passed. 

Directly he found himself in another street he 
opened the paper under a lamp-post. It contained a 
caricature of the Crucifixion, the scroll emanating 
from Mary Magdalene's mouth, in particular, contain- 
ing obscenities which cannot be quoted here. 

Robert thrust it into his pocket and strode on, every 
nerve quivering. 

'This is Wednesday in Passion Week/ he said to 
himself. 'The day after to-morrow is Good Friday!' 

He walked fast in a northwesterly direction, and 
soon found himself within the City, where the streets 
were long since empty and silent. But he noticed no- 
thing around him. His thoughts were in the distant 
East, among the flat roofs and white walls of Nazareth, 
the olives of Bethany, the steep streets and rocky 
ramparts of Jerusalem. He had seen them with the 
bodily eye, and the fact had enormously quickened his 
historical perception. The child of Nazareth, the 
moralist and teacher of Capernaum and Gennesaret, 
the strenuous seer and martyr of the later Jerusalem 
preaching all these various images sprang into throb- 
bing poetic life within him. That anything in human 
shape should be found capable of dragging this life 
and this death through the mire of a hideous and 
befouling laughter ! Who was responsible? To what 
cause could one trace such a temper of mind towards 
such an object present and militant as that temper 
is in all the crowded centres of working life throughout 
[ 323 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

modern Europe? The toiler of the world as he ma- 
tures may be made to love Socrates or Buddha or 
Marcus Aurelius. It would seem often as though he 
could not be made to love Jesus! Is it the Nemesis 
that ultimately discovers and avenges the sublimest, 
the least conscious departure from simplicity and 
verity? is it the last and most terrible illustration 
of a great axiom : 'Faith has a judge in truth' ? 

He went home and lay awake half the night ponder- 
ing. If he could but pour out his heart ! But though 
Catherine, the wife of his heart, of his youth, is there, 
close beside him, doubt and struggle and perplexity 
are alike frozen on his lips. He cannot speak without 
sympathy, and she will not hear except under a moral 
compulsion which he shrinks more and more painfully 
from exercising. 

The next night was a story-telling night. He spent 
it in telling the legend of St. Francis. When it was 
over he asked the audience to wait a moment, and 
there and then with the tender imaginative Fran- 
ciscan atmosphere, as it were, still about them he 
delivered a short and vigorous protest in the name of 
decency, good feeling, and common sense, against the 
idiotic profanities with which the whole immediate 
neighbourhood seemed to be reeking. It was the first 
time he had approached any religious matter directly. 
A knot of workmen sitting together at the back of the 
room looked at each other with a significant grimace 
or two. 

When Robert ceased speaking one of them, an 
elderly watchmaker, got up and made a dry and cyn- 
ical little speech, nothing moving but the thin lips in 
[ 324 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

the shrivelled mahogany face. Robert knew the man 
well. He was a Genevese by birth, Calvinist by blood, 
revolutionist by development. He complained that 
Mr. Elsmere had taken his audience by surprise ; that 
a good many of those present understood the remarks 
he had just made as an attack upon an institution in 
which many of them were deeply interested ; and that 
he invited Mr. Elsmere to a more thorough discussion 
of the matter, in a place where he could be both heard 
and answered. 

The room applauded with some signs of suppressed 
excitement. Most of the men there were accustomed 
to disputation of the sort which any Sunday visitor to 
Victoria Park may hear going on there week after 
week. Elsmere had made a vivid impression ; and the 
prospect of a fight with him had an unusual piquancy. 

Robert sprang up. 'When you will/ he said. ' I am 
ready to stand by what I have just said in the face of 
you all, if you care to hear it.' 

Place and particulars were hastily arranged, subject 
to the approval of the club committee, and Elsmere's 
audience separated in a glow of curiosity and expecta- 
tion. 

'Didn't I tell ye?' the gasfitter's snarling friend 
said to him. 'Scratch him and you find the parson. 
These upper-class folk, when they come among us 
poor ones, always seem to me just hunting for souls, 
as those Injuns he was talking about last week hunt 
for scalps. They can't get to heaven without a certain 
number of 'em slung about 'em/ 

'Wait a bit!' said the gasfitter, his quick dark eyes 
betraying a certain raised inner temperature. 
[ 325 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Next morning the North R Club was placarded 

with announcements that on Easter Eve next Robert 
Elsmere, Esq., would deliver a lecture in the Debating 
Hall on 'The Claim of Jesus upon Modern Life' ; to be 
followed, as usual, by general discussion. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

IT was the afternoon of Good Friday. Catherine had 
been to church at St. Paul's, and Robert, though not 
without some inward struggle, had accompanied her. 
Their midday meal was over, and Robert had been 
devoting himself to Mary, who had been tottering 
round the room in his wake, clutching one finger tight 
with her chubby hand. In particular, he had been 
coaxing her into friendship with a wooden Japanese 
dragon which wound itself in awful yet most seductive 
coils round the cabinet at the end of the room. It was 
Mary's weekly task to embrace this horror, and the 
performance went by the name of 'kissing the Jabber- 
wock.' It had been triumphantly achieved, and, as 
the reward of bravery, Mary was being carried round 
the room on her father's shoulder, holding on merci- 
lessly to his curls, her shining blue eyes darting scorn 
at the defeated monster. 

At last Robert deposited her on the rug beside a 
fascinating farmyard which lay there spread out for 
her, and stood looking, not at the child, but at his wife. 

' Catherine, I feel so much as Mary did three min- 
utes ago!' 

She looked up startled. The tone was light, but the 
sadness, the emotion of the eyes, contradicted it. 

'I want courage,' he went on ' courage to tell you 
something that may hurt you. And yet I ought to 
tell it.' 

[ 327 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Her face took the shrinking expression which was 
so painful to him. But she waited quietly for what he 
had to say. 

'You know, I think/ he said, looking away from her 
to the grey Museum outside, 'that my work in R 
has n't been religious as yet at all. Oh, of course, I 
have said things here and there, but I have n't deliv- 
ered myself in any way. Now there has come an 
opening/ 

And he described to her while she shivered a 
little and drew herself together the provocations 
which were leading him into a tussle with the North 
R Club. 

'They have given me a very civil invitation. They 
are the sort of men after all whom it pays to get hold 
of, if one can. Among their fellows, they are the men 
who think. One longs to help them to think to a little 
more purpose.' 

'What have you to give them, Robert?' asked Cath- 
erine after a pause, her eyes bent on the child's stock- 
ing she was knitting. Her heart was full enough al- 
ready, poor soul. Oh, the bitterness of this Passion 
Week ! He had been at her side often in church, but 
through all his tender silence and consideration she 
had divined the constant struggle in him between love 
and intellectual honesty, and it had filled her with a 
dumb irritation and misery indescribable. Do what 
she would, wrestle with herself as she would, there 
was constantly emerging in her now a note of anger, 
not with Robert, but, as it were, with those malign 
forces of which he was the prey. 

'What have I to give them?' he repeated sadly. 
[ 328 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

'Very little, Catherine, as it seems to me to-night. 
But come and see/ 

His tone had a melancholy which went to her heart. 
In reality he was in that state of depression which often 
precedes a great effort. But she was startled by his 
suggestion. 

'Come with you, Robert? To the meeting of the 
secularist club ! ' 

'Why not? I shall be there to protest against out- 
rage to what both you and I hold dear. And the men 
are decent fellows. There will be no disturbance/ 

' What are you going to do? ' she asked in a low voice. 

'I have been trying to think it out/ he said, with 
difficulty. ' I want simply, if I can, to transfer to their 
minds that image of Jesus of Nazareth which thought, 
and love, and reading have left upon my own. I want 
to make them realise for themselves the historical char- 
acter, so far as it can be realised to make them 
see for themselves the real figure, as it went in and out 
amongst men so far as our eyes can now discern it/ 

The words came quicker towards the end, while the 
voice sank took the vibrating characteristic note 
the wife knew so well. 

' How can that help them ? ' she said abruptly. ' Your 
historical Christ, Robert, will never win souls. If he 
was God, every word you speak will insult him. If 
he was man, he was not a good man!' 

'Come and see/ was all he said, holding out his 
hand to her. It was in some sort a renewal of the 
scene at Les Avants, the inevitable renewal of an offer 
he felt bound to make, and she felt bound to resist. 

She let her knitting fall and placed her hand in 
[ 329 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

his. The baby on the rug was alternately caressing 
and scourging a woolly baa-lamb, which was the fetish 
of her childish worship. Her broken incessant baby- 
talk, and the ringing kisses with which she atoned to 
the baa-lamb for each successive outrage, made a 
running accompaniment to the moved undertones of 
the parents. 

' Don't ask me, Robert, don't ask me ! Do you want 
me to come and sit thinking of last year's Easter Eve? ' 

'Heaven knows I was miserable enough last Easter 
Eve/ he said slowly. 

'And now, 'she exclaimed, looking at him with a sud- 
den agitation of every feature, 'now you are not mis- 
erable? You are quite confident and sure? You are 
going to devote your life to attacking the few remnants 
of faith that still remain in the world?' 

Never in her married life had she spoken to him 
with this accent of bitterness and hostility. He started 
and withdrew his hand, and there was a silence. 

'I held once a wife in my arms,' he said presently, 
with a voice hardly audible, 'who said to me that 
she would never persecute her husband. But what 
is persecution if it is not the determination not to 
understand?' 

She buried her face in her hands. ' I could not under- 
stand,' she said sombrely. 

'And rather than try,' he insisted, 'you will go on 
believing that I am a man without faith, seeking only 
to destroy/ 

'I know you think you have faith/ she answered, 
'but how can it seem faith to me? "He that will not 
confess Me before men, him will I also deny before 
[ 330 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

My Father which is in heaven." Your unbelief seems 
to me more dangerous than these horrible things which 
shock you. For you can make it attractive, you can 
make it loved, as you once made the faith of Christ 
loved/ 

He was silent. She raised her face presently, 
whereon were the traces of some of those quiet diffi- 
cult tears which were characteristic of her, and went 
softly out of the room. 

He stood a while leaning against the mantelpiece, 
deaf to little Mary's clamour, and to her occasional 
clutches at his knees, as she tried to raise herself on 
her tiny tottering feet. A sense as though of some fresh 
disaster was upon him. His heart was sinking, sink- 
ing within him. And yet none knew better than he 
that there was nothing fresh. It was merely that the 
scene had recalled to him anew some of those un- 
palatable truths which the optimist is always much 
too ready to forget. 

Heredity, the moulding force of circumstance, the 
iron hold of the past upon the present a man like 
Elsmere realises the working of these things in other 
men's lives with a singular subtlety and clearness, 
and is for ever overlooking them, running his head 
against them, in his own. 

He turned and laid his arms on the chimneypiece, 
burying his head on them. Suddenly he felt a touch 
on his knee, and, looking down, saw Mary peering 
up, her masses of dark hair streaming back from 
the straining little face, the grave open mouth, and 
alarmed eyes. 

'Fader, tiss! fader, tiss!' she said imperatively. 
[ 331 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

He lifted her up and covered the little brown cheeks 
with kisses. But the touch of the child only woke 
in him a fresh dread the like of something he had 
often divined of late in Catherine. Was she actually 
afraid now that he might feel himself bound in future 
to take her child spiritually from her? The suspicion 
of such a fear in her woke in him a fresh anguish ; it 
seemed a measure of the distance they had travelled 
from that old perfect unity. 

'She thinks I could even become in time her tyrant 
and torturer/ he said to himself with measureless pain, 
'and who knows who can answer for himself? Oh, 
the puzzle of living ! ' 

When she came back into the room, pale and quiet, 
Catherine said nothing, and Robert went to his letters. 
But after a while she opened his study-door. 

'Robert, will you tell me what your stories are to 
be next week, and let me put out the pictures?' 

It was the first time she had made any such offer. 
He sprang up with a flash in his grey eyes, and 
brought her a slip of paper with a list. She took it 
without looking at him. But he caught her in his 
arms, and for a moment in that embrace the soreness 
of both hearts passed away. 

But if Catherine would not go, Elsmere was not 
left on this critical occasion without auditors from 
his own immediate circle. On the evening of Good 
Friday Flaxman had found his way to Bedford Square, 
and, as Catherine was out, was shown into Elsmere's 
study. 

'I have come/ he announced, 'to try and persuade 
[ 332 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

you and Mrs. Elsmere to go down with me to Green- 
laws to-morrow. My Easter party has come to grief, 
and it would be a real charity on your part to come 
and resuscitate it. Do ! You look abominably fagged, 
and as if some country would do you good.' 

'But I thought - -' began Robert, taken aback. 

'You thought/ repeated Flaxman coolly, 'that your 
two sisters-in-law were going down there with Lady 
Helen, to meet some musical folk. Well, they are 
not coming. Miss Leyburn thinks your mother-in- 
law not very well to-day, and does n't like to come. 
And your younger sister prefers also to stay in town. 
Helen is much disappointed, so am I. But - ' And 
he shrugged his shoulders. 

Robert found it difficult to make a suitable remark. 
His sisters-in-law were certainly inscrutable young 
women. This Easter party at Greenlaws, Mr. Flax- 
man's country house, had been planned, he knew, 
for weeks. And certainly nothing could be very wrong 
with Mrs. Leyburn, or Catherine would have been 
warned. 

'I am afraid your plans must be greatly put out/ 
he said, with some embarrassment. 

'Of course they are/ replied Flaxman, with a dry 
smile. He stood opposite Elsmere, his hands in his 
pockets. 

'Will you have a confidence?' the bright eyes 
seemed to say. ' I am quite ready. Claim it if you like.' 

But Elsmere had no intention of claiming it. The 

position of all Rose's kindred, indeed, at the present 

moment was not easy. None of them had the least 

knowledge of Rose's mind. Had she forgotten Lang- 

[ 333 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ham? Had she lost her heart afresh to Flaxman? 
No one knew. Flaxman 's absorption in her was clear 
enough. But his love-making, if it was such, was not 
of an ordinary kind, and did not always explain itself. 
And, moreover, his wealth and social position were 
elements in the situation calculated to make people 
like the Elsmeres particularly diffident and discreet. 
Impossible for them, much as they liked him, to make 
any of the advances ! 

No, Robert wanted no confidences. He was not 
prepared to take the responsibility of them. So, let- 
ting Rose alone, he took up his visitor's invitation to 
themselves, and explained the engagement for Easter 
Eve, which tied them to London. 

'Whew!' said Hugh Flaxman, 'but that will be 
a shindy worth seeing. I must come!' 

'Nonsense!' said Robert, smiling. 'Go down to 
Greenlaws, and go to church. That will be much more 
in your line.' 

'As for church,' said Flaxman meditatively, 'if I 
put off my party altogether, and stay in town, there 
will be this further advantage, that, after hearing you 
on Saturday night, I can, with a blameless impartial- 
ity, spend the following day in St. Andrew's, Wells 
Street. Yes! I telegraph to Helen she knows my 
ways and I come down to protect you against an 
atheistical mob to-morrow night!' 

Robert tried to dissuade him. He did not want 
Flaxman. Flaxman's Epicureanism, the easy toler- 
ance with which, now that the effervescence of his 
youth had subsided, the man harboured and dallied 
with a dozen contradictory beliefs, were at times 
[ 334 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

peculiarly antipathetic to Elsmere. They were so now, 
just as heart and soul were nerved to an effort which 
could not be made at all without the nobler sort of self- 
confidence. 

But Flaxman was determined. 

'No/ he said ; 'this one day we'll give to heresy. 
Don't look so forbidding ! In the first place, you won't 
see me; in the next, if you did, you would feel me as 
wax in your hands. I am like the man in Sophocles 
always the possession of the last speaker ! One day I am 
all for the Church. A certain number of chances in 
the hundred there still are, you will admit, that she is 
in the right of it. And if so, why should I cut myself 
off from a whole host of beautiful things not to be got 
outside her? But the next day vive Elsmere and 
the Revolution! If only Elsmere could persuade me 
intellectually ! But I never yet came across a religious 
novelty that seemed to me to have a leg of logic to 
stand on.' 

He laid his hand on Robert's shoulder, his eyes 
twinkling with a sudden energy. Robert made no 
answer. He stood erect, frowning a little, his hands 
thrust far into the pockets of his light grey coat. He 
was in no mood to disclose himself to Flaxman. The 
inner vision was fixed with extraordinary intensity on 
quite another sort of antagonist, with whom the mind 
was continuously grappling. 

'Ah, well till to-morrow!' said Flaxman, with a 
smile, shook hands, and went. 

Outside he hailed a cab and drove off to Lady 
Charlotte's. 

He found his aunt and Mr. Wynnstay in the draw- 
[ 335 J 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ing-room alone, one on either side of the fire. Lady 
Charlotte was reading the latest political biography 
with an apparent profundity of attention ; Mr. Wynn- 
stay was lounging and caressing the cat. But both 
his aunt's absorption and Mr. Wynnstay's nonchalance 
seemed to Flaxman overdone. He suspected a domes- 
tic breeze. 

Lady Charlotte made him effusively welcome. He 
had come to propose that she should accompany him 
the following evening to hear Elsmere lecture. 

'I advise you to come/ he said. 'Elsmere will 
deliver his soul, and the amount of soul he has to 
deliver in these dull days is astounding. A dowdy 
dress and a veil, of course. I will go down beforehand 
and see some one on the spot, in case there should be 
difficulties about getting in. Perhaps Miss Leyburn, 
too, might like to hear her brother-in-law?' 

'Really, Hugh/ cried Lady Charlotte impatiently, 
' I think you might take your snubbing with dignity. 
Her refusal this morning to go to Greenlaws was 
brusqueness itself. To my mind that young person 
gives herself airs!' And the Duke of Sedbergh's sister 
drew herself up with a rustle of all her ample frame. 

'Yes, I was snubbed/ said Flaxman, unperturbed; 
'that, however, is no reason why she shouldn't find it 
attractive to go to-morrow night.' 

'And you will let her see that, just because you 
could n't get hold of her, you have given up your 
Easter party and left your sister in the lurch?' 

'I never had excessive notions of dignity/ he replied 
composedly. 'You may make up any story you please. 
The real fact is that I want to hear Elsmere.' 
[ 336 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

'You had better go, my dear!' said her husband 
sardonically. 'I cannot imagine anything more 
piquant than an atheistic slum on Easter Eve/ 

'Nor can I!' she replied, her combativeness rousing 
at once. 'Much obliged to you, Hugh. I will borrow 
my housekeeper's dress, and be ready to leave here 
at half -past seven/ 

Nothing more was said of Rose, but Flaxman knew 
that she would be asked, and let it alone. 

'Will his wife be there?' asked Lady Charlotte. 

'Who? Elsmere's? My dear aunt, when you hap- 
pen to be the orthodox wife of a rising heretic, your 
husband's opinions are not exactly the spectacular 
performance they are to you and me. I should think 
it most unlikely.' 

'Oh, she persecutes him, does she?' 

'She would n't be a woman if she did n't!' observed 
Mr. Wynnstay, sotto voce. The small dark man was lost 
in a great armchair, his delicate painter's hands play- 
ing with the fur of a huge Persian cat. Lady Char- 
lotte threw him an eagle glance, and he subsided - 
for the moment. 

Flaxman, however, was perfectly right. There had 
been a breeze. It had been just announced to the 
master of the house by his spouse that certain Socialist 
celebrities who might any day be expected to make 
acquaintance with the police were coming to dine 
at his table, to finger his spoons, and mix their dia- 
tribes with his champagne, on the following Tuesday. 
Overt rebellion had never served him yet, and he 
knew perfectly well that when it came to the point he 
should smile more or less affably upon these gentry, 
[ 337 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

as he had smiled upon others of the same sort before. 
But it had not yet come to the point, and his inter- 
mediate state was explosive in the extreme. 

Mr. Flaxman dexterously continued the subject of 
the Elsmeres. Dropping his bantering tone, he de- 
livered himself of a very delicate critical analysis of 
Catherine Elsmere's temperament and position, as in 
the course of several months his intimacy with her 
husband had revealed them to him. He did it well, 
with acuteness and philosophical relish. The situation 
presented itself to him as an extremely refined and 
yet tragic phase of the religious difficulty, and it gave 
him intellectual pleasure to draw it out in words. 

Lady Charlotte sat listening, enjoying her nephew's 
crisp phrases, but also gradually gaining a perception 
of the human reality behind this word-play of Hugh's. 
That 'good heart' of hers was touched; the large 
imperious face began to frown. 

'Dear me!' she said, with a little sigh. 'Don't go 
on, Hugh! I suppose it's because we all of us believe 
so little that the poor thing's point of view seems to 
one so unreal. All the same, however,' she added, 
regaining her usual role of magisterial common-sense, 
'a woman, in my opinion, ought to go with her hus- 
band in religious matters/ 

'Provided, of course, she sets him at nought in alk 
others,' put in Mr. Wynnstay, rising and daintily 
depositing the cat. 'Many men, however, my dear, 
might be willing to compromise it differently. Granted 
a certain modicum of worldly conformity, they would 
not be at all indisposed to a conscience clause/ 

He lounged out of the room, while Lady Charlotte 
[ 338 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

shrugged her shoulders with a look at her nephew in 
which there was an irrepressible twinkle. Mr. Flax- 
man neither heard nor saw. Life would have ceased 
to be worth having long ago had he ever taken sides 
in the smallest degree in this menage. 

Flaxman walked home again, not particularly sat- 
isfied with himself and his manoeuvres. Very likely 
it was quite unwise of him to have devised another 
meeting between himself and Rose Leyburn so soon. 
Certainly she had snubbed him there could be no 
doubt of that. Nor was he in much perplexity as to 
the reason. He had been forgetting himself, forgetting 
his role and the whole lie of the situation, and if a 
man will be an idiot he must suffer for it. He had 
distinctly been put back a move. 

The facts were very simple. It was now nearly 
three months since Langham's disappearance. During 
that time Rose Leyburn had been, to Flaxman's mind, 
enchantingly dependent on him. He had played his 
part so well, and the beautiful high-spirited child had 
suited herself so naively to his acting ! Evidently she 
had said to herself that his age, his former marriage, 
his relation to Lady Helen, his constant kindness to 
her and her sister, made it natural that she should 
trust him, make him her friend, and allow him an inti- 
macy she allowed to no other male friend. And when 
once the situation had been so defined in her mind, 
how the girl's true self had come out! what delight- 
ful moments that intimacy had contained for him ! 

He remembered how on one occasion he had been 
reading some Browning to her and Helen, in Helen's 
crowded belittered drawing-room, which seemed all 
[ 339 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

piano and photographs and lilies of the valley. He 
never could exactly trace the connexion between the 
passage he had been reading and what happened. 
Probably it was merely Browning's poignant passion- 
ate note that had affected her. In spite of all her proud 
bright reserve both he and Helen often felt through 
these weeks that just below this surface there was a 
heart which quivered at the least touch. 

He finished the lines and laid down the book. Lady 
Helen heard her three-year-old boy crying upstairs, 
and ran up to see what was the matter. He and Rose 
were left alone in the scented firelit room. And a jet 
of flame suddenly showed him the girl's face turned 
away, convulsed with a momentary struggle for self- 
control. She raised a hand an instant to her eyes, not 
dreaming evidently that she could be seen in the dim- 
ness ; and her gloves dropped from her lap. 

He moved forward, stooped on one knee, and as she 
held out her hand for the gloves, he kissed the hand 
very gently, detaining it afterwards as a brother 
might. There was not a thought of himself in his mind. 
Simply he could not bear that so bright a creature 
should ever be sorry. It seemed to him intolerable, 
against the nature of things. If he could have pro- 
cured for her at that moment a coerced and trans- 
formed Langham, a Langham fitted to make her 
happy, he could almost have done it; and, short of 
such radical consolation, the very least he could do 
was to go on his knee to her, and comfort her in tender 
brotherly fashion. 

She did not say anything; she let her hand stay a 
moment, and then she got up, put on her veil, left a 
[ 340 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

quiet message for Lady Helen, and departed. But as 
he put her into a hansom her whole manner to him 
was full of a shy shrinking sweetness. And when Rose 
was shy and shrinking she was adorable. 

Well, and now he had never again gone nearly so 
far as to kiss her hand, and yet because of an indiscreet 
moment everything was changed between them; she 
had turned resentful, stand-off, nay, as nearly rude as 
a girl under the restraints of modern manners can 
manage to be. He almost laughed as he recalled 
Helen's report of her interview with Rose that morn- 
ing, in which she had tried to persuade a young person 
outrageously on her dignity to keep an engagement 
she had herself spontaneously made. 

'I am very sorry, Lady Helen/ Rose had said, her 
slim figure drawn up so stiffly that the small Lady 
Helen felt herself totally effaced beside her. ' But I had 
rather not leave London this week. I think I will stay 
with mamma and Agnes.' 

And nothing Lady Helen could say moved her, or 
modified her formula of refusal. 

* What have you been doing, Hugh?' his sister asked 
him, half -dismayed, half -provoked. 

Flaxman shrugged his shoulders and vowed he had 
been doing nothing. But, in truth, he knew very well 
that the day before he had overstepped the line. There 
had been a little scene between them, a quick passage 
of speech, a rash look and gesture on his part, which 
had been quite unpremeditated, but which had never- 
theless transformed their relation. Rose had flushed 
up, had said a few incoherent words, which he had 
understood to be words of reproach, had left Lady 
f 341 1 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Helen's as quickly as possible, and next morning his 
Greenlaws party had fallen through. 

'Check, certainly/ said Flaxman to himself ruefully, 
as he pondered these circumstances 'not mate, I 
hope, if one can but find out .how not to be a fool in 
future/ 

And over his solitary fire he meditated far into the 
night. 

Next day, at half -past seven in the evening, he 
entered Lady Charlotte's drawing-room, gayer, brisker, 
more alert than ever. 

Rose started visibly at the sight of him, and shot 
a quick glance at the unblushing Lady Charlotte. 

'I thought you were at Greenlaws/ she could not 
help saying to him, as she coldly offered him her 
hand. Why had Lady Charlotte never told her he 
was to escort them? Her irritation rose anew. 

'What can one do/ he said lightly, 'if Elsmere will 
fix such a performance for Easter Eve? My party 
was at its last gasp too ; it only wanted a telegram to 
Helen to give it its coup de grace.' 

Rose flushed up, but he turned on his heel at once, 
and began to banter his aunt on the housekeeper's 
bonnet and veil in which she had a little too obviously 
disguised herself. 

And certainly, in the drive to the East End, Rose 
had no reason to complain of importunity on his part. 
Most of the way he was deep in talk with Lady Char- 
lotte as to a certain loan exhibition in the East End, 
to which he and a good many of his friends were 
sending pictures; apparently his time and thought 
were entirely occupied with it. Rose, leaning back 
[ 342 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

silent in her corner, was presently seized with a little 
shock of surprise that there should be so many interests 
and relations in his life of which she knew nothing. 
He was talking now as the man of possessions and 
influence. She saw a glimpse of him as he was in his 
public aspect, and the kindness, the disinterestedness, 
the quiet sense, and the humour of his talk insensibly 
affected her as she sat listening. The mental image of 
him which had been dominant in her mind altered a 
little. Nay, she grew a little hot over it. She asked 
herself scornfully whether she were not as ready as 
any bread-and-butter miss of her acquaintance to 
imagine every man she knew in love with her. 

Very likely he had meant what he said quite differ- 
ently, and she oh ! humiliation had flown into a 
passion with him for no reasonable cause. Supposing 
he had meant, two days ago, that if they were to go 
on being friends she must let him be her lover too, it 
would of course have been unpardonable. How could 
she let any one talk to her of love yet especially 
Mr. Flaxman, who guessed, as she was quite sure, 
what had happened to her? He must despise her to 
have imagined it. His outburst had filled her with the 
oddest and most petulant resentment. Were all men 
self-seeking? Did all men think women shallow and 
fickle? Could a man and a woman never be honestly 
and simply friends? If he had made love to her, he 
could not possibly and there was the sting of it - 
feel towards her maiden dignity that romantic respect 
which she herself cherished towards it. For it was 
incredible that any delicate-minded girl should go 
through such a crisis as she had gone through, and 
[ 343 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

then fall calmly into another lover's arms a few weeks 
later as though nothing had happened. 

How we all attitudinise to ourselves ! The whole of 
life often seems one long dramatic performance, in 
which one half of us is for ever posing to the other half. 

But had he really made love to her? had he 
meant what she had assumed him to mean? The girl 
lost herself in a torment of memory and conjecture, 
and meanwhile Mr. Flaxman sat opposite, talking 
away, and looking certainly as little love-sick as any 
man can well look. As the lamps flashed into the 
carriage her attention was often caught by his profile 
and finely-balanced head, by the hand lying on his 
knee, or the little gestures, full of life and freedom, 
with which he met some raid of Lady Charlotte's on 
his opinions, or opened a corresponding one on hers. 
There was certainly power in the man, a bright human 
sort of power, which inevitably attracted her. And 
that he was good too she had special grounds for 
knowing. 

But what an aristocrat he was after all! What an 
over-prosperous exclusive set he belonged to! She 
lashed herself into anger as the other two chatted and 
sparred, with all these names of wealthy cousins and 
relations, with their parks and their pedigrees and 
their pictures! The aunt and nephew were debating 
how they could best bleed the family, in its various 
branches, of the art treasures belonging to it for the 
benefit of the East-Enders ; therefore the names were 
inevitable. But Rose curled her delicate lip over them. 
And was it the best breeding, she wondered, to leave a 
third person so ostentatiously outside the conversation? 
[ 344 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

'Miss Ley burn, why are you coughing?' said Lady 
Charlotte suddenly. 

' There is a great draught, ' said Rose, shivering a little. 

'So there is!' cried Lady Charlotte. 'Why, we have 
got both the windows open. Hugh, draw up Miss 
Ley burn's.' 

He moved over to her and drew it up. 

'I thought you liked a tornado,' he said to her, 
smiling. 'Will you have a shawl? there is one 
behind me.' 

'No, thank you,' she replied rather stiffly, and he 
was silent retaining his place opposite to her, how- 
ever. 

'Have we reached Mr. Elsmere's part of the world 
yet?' asked Lady Charlotte, looking out. 

'Yes, we are not far off the river is to our right. 
We shall pass St. Wilfrid's soon.' 

The coachman turned into a street where an open- 
air market was going on. The roadway and pave- 
ments were swarming; the carriage could barely pick 
its way through the masses of human beings. Flaming 
gas-jets threw it all into strong satanic light and shade. 
At the corner of a dingy alley Rose could see a fight 
going on ; the begrimed ragged children, regardless of 
the April rain, swooped backwards and forwards under 
the very hoofs of the horses, or flattened their noses 
against the windows whenever the horses were forced 
into a walk. 

The young girl-figure in grey, with the grey feath- 
ered hat, seemed specially to excite their notice. The 
glare of the street brought out the lines of the face, 
the gold of the hair. The Arabs outside made loutishly 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

flattering remarks once or twice, and Rose, colouring, 
drew back as far as she could into the carriage. Mr. 
Flaxman seemed not to hear; his aunt, with that 
obtrusive thirst for information which is so fashion- 
able now among all women of position, was cross- 
questioning him as to the trades and population of the 
district, and he was drily responding. In reality his 
mind was full of a whirl of feeling, of a wild longing 
to break down a futile barrier and trample on a 
baffling resistance, to take that beautiful tameless 
creature in strong coercing arms, scold her, crush her, 
love her! Why does she make happiness so difficult? 
What right has she to hold devotion so cheap? He 
too grows angry. 'She was not in love with that 
spectral creature/ the inner self declares with energy 
' I will vow she never was. But she is like all the 
rest a slave to the merest forms and trappings of 
sentiment. Because he ought to have loved her, and 
did n't, because she fancied she loved him, and did n't, 
my love is to be an offence to her! Monstrous 
unjust!' 

Suddenly they sped past St. Wilfrid's, resplendent 
with lights, the jewelled windows of the choir rising 
above the squalid walls and roofs into the rainy dark- 
ness, as the mystical chapel of the Graal, with its 
'torches glimmering fair,' flashed out of the mountain 
storm and solitude on to Galahad's seeking eyes. 

Rose bent forward involuntarily. 'What angel sing- 
ing ! ' she said, dropping the window again to listen to 
the retreating sounds, her artist's eye kindling. 'Did 
you hear it? It was the last chorus in the St. Matthew 
Passion music.' 

[ 346 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

'I did not distinguish it/ he said 'but their music 
is famous/ 

His tone was distant ; there was no friendliness in it. 
It would have been pleasant to her if he would have 
taken up her little remark and let bygones be bygones. 
But he showed no readiness to do so. The subject 
dropped, and presently he moved back to his former 
seat, and Lady Charlotte and he resumed their talk. 
Rose could not but see that his manner towards her 
was much changed. She herself had compelled it, but 
all the same she saw him leave her with a capricious 
little pang of regret, and afterwards the drive seemed 
to her more tedious and the dismal streets more dismal 
than before. 

She tried to forget her companions altogether. Oh ! 
what would Robert have to say? She was unhappy, 
restless. In her trouble lately it had often pleased her 
to go quite alone to strange churches, where for a 
moment the burden of the self had seemed lightened. 
But the old things were not always congenial to her, 
and there were modern ferments at work in her. No 
one of her family, unless it were Agnes, suspected 
what was going on. But in truth the rich crude 
nature had been touched at last, as Robert's had been 
long ago in Mr. Grey's lecture-room, by the piercing 
under- voices of things the moral message of the 
world. 'What will he have to say?' she asked herself 
again feverishly, and as she looked across to Mr. 
Flaxman she felt a childish wish to be friends again 
with him, with everybody. Life was too difficult as it 
was, without quarrels and misunderstandings to make 
it worse. 



CHAPTER XL 

A LONG street of warehouses and at the end of it 
the horses slackened. 

'I saw the president of the club yesterday/ said 
Flaxman, looking out. 'He is an old friend of mine 
a most intelligent fanatic met him on a Mansion 
House Fund committee last winter. He promised we 
should be looked after. But we shall only get back 
seats, and you'll have to put up with the smoking. 
They don't want ladies, and we shall only be there on 
sufferance/ 

The carriage stopped. Mr. Flaxman guided his 
charges with some difficulty through the crowd about 
the steps, who inspected them and their vehicle with 
a frank and not over-friendly curiosity. At the door 
they found a man who had been sent to look for them, 
and were immediately taken possession of. He ushered 
them into the back of a large bare hall, glaringly lit, 
lined with white brick, and hung at intervals with 
political portraits and a few cheap engravings of 
famous men, Jesus of Nazareth taking his turn with 
Buddha, Socrates, Moses, Shakespeare, and Paul of 
Tarsus. 

'Can't put you any forrarder, I'm afraid,' said their 
guide, with a shrug of the shoulders. 'The committee 
don't like strangers coming, and Mr. Collett, he got 
hauled over the coals for letting you in this evening.' 

It was a new position for Lady Charlotte to be any- 
[ 348 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

where on sufferance. However, in the presence of 
three hundred smoking men, who might all of them 
be political assassins in disguise for anything she knew, 
she accepted her fate with meekness; and she and 
Rose settled themselves into their back seat under a 
rough sort of gallery, glad of their veils, and nearly 
blinded with the smoke. 

The hall was nearly full, and Mr. Flaxman looked 
curiously round upon its occupants. The majority of 
them were clearly artisans a spare, stooping, sharp- 
featured race. Here and there were a knot of stalwart 
dock labourers, strongly marked out in physique from 
the watchmakers and the potters, or an occasional 
seaman out of work, ship-steward, boatswain, or what 
not, generally bronzed, quick-eyed, and comely, save 
where the film of excess had already deadened colour 
and expression. Almost every one had a pot of beer 
before him, standing on long wooden flaps attached to 
the benches. The room was full of noise, coming ap- 
parently from the farther end, where some political 
bravo seemed to be provoking his neighbours. In their 
own vicinity the men scattered about were for the 
most part tugging silently at their pipes, alternately 
eyeing the clock and the new-comers. 

There was a stir of feet round the door. 

'There he is/ said Mr. Flaxman, craning round to 
see, and Robert entered. 

He started as he saw them, flashed a smile to Rose, 
shook his head at Mr. Flaxman, and passed up the 
room. 

'He looks pale and nervous/ said Lady Charlotte 
grimly, pouncing at once on the unpromising side of 
[ 349 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

things. ' If he breaks down are you prepared, Hugh, 
to play Elisha?' 

Flaxman was far too much interested in the begin- 
nings of the performance to answer. 

Robert was standing forward on the platform, the 
chairman of the meeting at his side, members of the 
committee sitting behind on either hand. A good 
many men put down their pipes, and the hubbub of 
talk ceased. Others smoked on stolidly. 

The chairman introduced the lecturer. The subject 
of the address would be, as they already knew, 'The 
Claim of Jesus upon Modern Life/ It was not very 
likely, he imagined, that Mr. Elsmere's opinions would 
square with those dominant in the club ; but, whether 
or no, he claimed for him, as for everybody, a patient 
hearing, and the Englishman's privilege of fair play. 

The speaker, a cabinet-maker dressed in a decent 
brown suit, spoke with fluency, and at the same time 
with that accent of moderation and savoir faire which 
some Englishmen in all classes have obviously in- 
herited from centuries of government by discussion. 
Lady Charlotte, whose Liberalism was the mere var- 
nish of an essentially aristocratic temper, was con- 
scious of a certain dismay at the culture of the de- 
mocracy as the man sat down. Mr. Flaxman, glancing 
to the right, saw a group of men standing, and amongst 
them a slight sharp-featured thread-paper of a man, 
with a taller companion, whom he identified as the 
pair he had noticed on the night of the story-telling. 
The little gasfitter was clearly all nervous fidget and 
expectation ; the other, large and gaunt in figure, with 
a square impassive face, and close-shut lips that had 
[ 350 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

a perpetual mocking twist in the corners, stood beside 
him like some clumsy modern version, in a commoner 
clay, of Goethe's 'spirit that denies/ 

Robert came forward with a roll of papers in his 
hand. 

His first words were hardly audible. Rose felt her 
colour rising, Lady Charlotte glanced at her nephew, 
the standing group of men cried, 'Speak up!' The 
voice in the distance rose at once, braced by the touch 
of difficulty, and what it said came firmly down to 
them. 

In after days Flaxman could not often be got to talk 
of the experience of this evening. When he did he 
would generally say, briefly, that as an intellectual 
effort he had never been inclined to rank this first 
public utterance very high among Elsmere's perform- 
ances. The speaker's own emotion had stood some- 
what in his way. A man argues better, perhaps, when 
he feels less. 

' I have often heard him put his case, as I thought, 
more cogently in conversation,' Flaxman would say 
though only to his most intimate friends 'but what 
I never saw before or since was such an effect of per- 
sonality as he produced that night. From that mo- 
ment, at any rate, I loved him, and I understood his 
secret.' 

Elsmere began with a few words of courteous thanks 
to the club for the hearing they had promised him. 

Then he passed on to the occasion of his address - 
the vogue in the district of 'certain newspapers which, 
I understand, are specially relished and patronised by 
your association.' 

[ 351 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

And he laid down on a table beside him the copies 
of the Freethinker and of Faith and Fools which he had 
brought with him, and faced his audience again, his 
hands on his sides. 

'Well ! I am not here to-night to attack those news- 
papers. I want to reach your sympathies if I can in 
another way. If there is anybody here who takes 
pleasure in them, who thinks that such writing and 
such witticisms as he gets purveyed to him in these 
sheets do really help the cause of truth and intellectual 
freedom, I shall not attack his position from the front. 
I shall try to undermine it. I shall aim at rousing in 
him such a state of feeling as may suddenly convince 
him that what is injured by writing of this sort is 
not the orthodox Christian, or the Church, or Jesus 
of Nazareth, but always and inevitably the man who 
writes it and the man who loves it. His mind is pos- 
sessed of an inflaming and hateful image, which drives 
him to mockery and violence. I want to replace it, if 
I can, by one of calm, of beauty and tenderness, which 
may drive him to humility and sympathy. And this, 
indeed, is the only way in which opinion is ever really 
altered by the substitution of one mental picture 
for another. 

'But in the first place/ resumed the speaker, after 
a moment's pause, changing his note a little, 'a word 
about myself. I am not here to-night quite in the 
position of the casual stranger, coming down to your 
district for the first time. As some of you know, I am 
endeavouring to make what is practically a settle- 
ment among you, asking you workingmen to teach 
me, if you will, what you have to teach as to the wants 
f 352 1 



NEW OPENINGS 

and prospects of your order, and offering you in return 
whatever there is in me which may be worth your 
taking. Well, I imagine I should look at a man who 
preferred a claim of that sort with some closeness ! You 
may well ask me for "antecedents, " and I should like, 
if I may, to give them to you very shortly. 

'Well, then, though I came down to this place under 
the wing of Mr. Edwardes' (some cheering) 'who is 
so greatly liked and respected here, I am not a Uni- 
tarian, nor am I an English Churchman. A year ago 
I was the vicar of an English country parish, where I 
should have been proud, so far as personal happiness 
went, to spend my life. Last autumn I left it and 
resigned my orders because I could no longer accept 
the creed of the English Church/ Unconsciously the 
thin dignified figure drew itself up, the voice took a 
certain dryness. All this was distasteful, but the 
orator's instinct was imperious. 

As he spoke about a score of pipes which had till 
now been active in Flaxman's neighbourhood went 
down. The silence in the room became suddenly of 
a perceptibly different quality. 

'Since then I have joined no other religious asso- 
ciation. But it is not God forbid ! because there 
is nothing left me to believe, but because in this trans- 
ition England it is well for a man who has broken 
with the old things, to be very patient. No good can 
come of forcing opinion or agreement prematurely. 
A generation, nay, more, may have to spend itself in 
mere waiting and preparing for those new leaders and 
those new forms of corporate action which any great 
revolution of opinion, such as that we are now living 
[ 353 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

through, has always produced in the past, and will, 
we are justified in believing, produce again. But the 
hour and the men will come, and "they also serve who 
only stand and wait." 

Voice and look had kindled into fire. The conscious- 
ness of his audience was passing from him the 
world of ideas was growing clearer. 

'So much, then, for personalities of one sort. There 
are some of another, however, which I must touch 
upon for a moment. I am to speak to you to-night of 
the Jesus of history, but not only as an historian. 
History is good, but religion is better and if Jesus 
of Nazareth concerned me, and, in my belief, con- 
cerned you, only as an historical figure, I should not 
be here to-night. 

' But if I am to talk religion to you, and I have be- 
gun by telling you I am not this and not that, it seems 
to me that for mere clearness' sake, for the sake of 
that round and whole image of thought which I want 
to present to you, you must let me run through a 
preliminary confession of faith as short and simple 
as I can make it. You must let me describe certain 
views of the universe and of man's place in it, which 
make the framework, as it were, into which I shall 
ask you to fit the picture of Jesus which will come after/ 

Robert stood a moment considering. An instant's 
nervousness, a momentary sign of self -consciousness, 
would have broken the spell and set the room against 
him. He showed neither. 

X ' My friends, ' he said at last, speaking to the crowded 
benches of London workmen with the same simplicity 
he would have used towards his boys at Murewell, 
[ 354 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

'the man who is addressing you to-night believes in 
God; and in Conscience, which is God's witness in the 
soul ; and in Experience, which is at once the record 
and the instrument of man's education at God's hands. 
He places his whole trust, for life and death, "in God 
the Father Almighty," in that force at the root of 
things which is revealed to us whenever a man helps 
his neighbour, or a mother denies herself for her child ; 
whenever a soldier dies without a murmur for his 
country, or a sailor puts out in the darkness to rescue 
the perishing; whenever a workman throws mind and 
conscience into his work, or a statesman labours not 
for his own gain but for that of the State ! He believes 
in an Eternal Goodness and an Eternal Mind of 
which Nature and Man are the continuous and the 
only revelation. . . . ' 

The room grew absolutely still. And into the silence 
there fell, one by one, the short terse sentences, in 
which the seer, the believer, struggled to express 
what God has been, is, and will ever be to the soul 
which trusts Him. In them the whole effort of the 
speaker was really to restrain, to moderate, to deper- 
sonalise the voice of faith. But the intensity of each 
word burnt it into the hearer as it was spoken. Even 
Lady Charlotte turned a little pale the tears stood 
in her eyes. 

Then, from the witness of God in the soul, and in 
the history of man's moral life, Elsmere turned to the 
glorification of Experience, 'of that unvarying and 
rational order of the world which has been the ap- 
pointed instrument of man's training since life and 
thought began.' 

[ 355 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'There/ he said slowly, 'in the unbroken sequences 
of Nature, in the physical history of the world, in the 
long history of man, physical, intellectual, moral - 
there lies the revelation of God. There is no other, my 
friends!' 

Then, while the room hung on his words, he entered 
on a brief exposition of the text, 'Miracles do not hap- 
pen/ restating Hume's old argument, and adding to 
it some of the most cogent of those modern arguments 
drawn from literature, from history, from the com- 
parative study of religions and religious evidence, 
which were not practically at Hume's disposal, but 
which are now affecting the popular mind as Hume's 
reasoning could never have affected it. 

'We are now able to show how miracle, or the 
belief in it, which is the same thing, comes into being. 
The study of miracle in all nations, and under all 
conditions, yields everywhere the same results. Mir- 
acle may be the child of imagination, of love, nay, of 
a passionate sincerity, but invariably it lives with 
ignorance and is withered by knowledge ! ' 

And then, with lightning unexpectedness, he turned 
upon his audience, as though the ardent soul reacted 
at once against a strain of mere negation. 

'But do not let yourselves imagine for an instant 
that, because in a rational view of history there is no 
place for a Resurrection and Ascension, therefore you 
may profitably allow yourself a mean and miserable 
mirth of this sort over the past ! ' - - and his out- 
stretched hand struck the newspapers beside him with 
passion. ' Do not imagine for an instant that what is 
binding, adorable, beautiful in that past is done away 
[ 356 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

with when miracle is given up. No, thank God ! We 
still "live by admiration, hope, and love." God only 
draws closer, great men become greater, human life 
more wonderful as miracle disappears. Woe to you if 
you cannot see it ! it is the testing truth of our day. 

'And besides do you suppose that mere violence, 
mere invective, and savage mockery ever accomplished 
anything nay, what is more to the point, ever de- 
stroyed anything in human history? No an idea 
cannot be killed from without it can only be sup- 
planted, transformed, by another idea, and that one 
of equal virtue and magic. Strange paradox! In the 
moral world you cannot pull down except by gentle- 
ness you cannot revolutionise except by sympathy. 
Jesus only superseded Judaism by absorbing and re- 
creating all that was best in it. There are no inex- 
plicable gaps and breaks in the story of humanity. 
The religion of to-day, with all its faults and mistakes, 
will go on unshaken so long as there is nothing else 
of equal loveliness and potency to put in its place. 
The Jesus of the churches will remain paramount so 
long as the man of to-day imagines himself dispensed 
by any increase of knowledge from loving the Jesus 
of history. 

'But why? you will ask me. What does the Jesus 
of history matter to me?' 

And so he was brought to the place of great men in 
the development of mankind to the part played 
in the human story by those lives in which men have 
seen all their noblest thoughts of God, of duty, and 
of law embodied, realised before them with a shining 
and incomparable beauty. 

[ 357 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'. . . You think because it is becoming plain to 
the modern eye that the ignorant love of his first 
followers wreathed his life in legend that therefore 
you can escape from Jesus of Nazareth, you can put 
him aside as though he had never been? Folly! Do 
what you will, you cannot escape him. His life and 
death underlie our institutions as the alphabet under- 
lies our literature. Just as the lives of Buddha and 
of Mohammed are wrought ineffaceably into the 
civilisation of Africa and Asia, so the life of Jesus is 
wrought ineffaceably into the higher civilisation, the 
nobler social conceptions of Europe. It is wrought into 
your being and into mine. We are what we are to- 
night, as Englishmen and as citizens, largely because 
a Galilean peasant was born and grew to manhood, 
and preached, and loved, and died. And you think 
that a fact so tremendous can be just scoffed away 
- that we can get rid of it, and of our share in it, by 
a ribald paragraph and a caricature H& 

'No. Your hatred and your ridicule are powerless. 
And thank God they are powerless. There is no wan- 
ton waste in the moral world, any more than in the 
material. There is only fruitful change and beneficent 
transformation. Granted that the true story of Jesus 
of Nazareth was from the beginning obscured by error 
and mistake; granted that those errors and mistakes 
which were once the strength of Christianity are now 
its weakness, and by the slow march and sentence of 
time are now threatening, unless we can clear them 
away, to lessen the hold of Jesus on the love and 
remembrance of man. What then? The fact is merely 
a call to you and me, who recognise it, to go back to 
[ 358 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

the roots of things, to reconceive the Christ, to bring 
him afresh into our lives, to make the life so freely 
given for man minister again in new ways to man's 
new needs. Every great religion is, in truth, a con- 
centration of great ideas, capable, as all ideas are, of 
infinite expansion and adaptation. And woe to our 
human weakness if it loose its hold one instant before 
it must on any of those rare and precious possessions 
which have helped it in the past, and may again in- 
spire it in the future ! 

'To reconceive the Christ! It is the. special task of 
our age, though in some sort and degree it has been 
the ever-recurring task of Europe since the beginning// 

He paused, and then very simply, and so as to be 
understood by those who heard him, he gave a rapid 
sketch of that great operation worked by the best 
intellect of Europe during the last half -century - 
broadly speaking on the facts and documents of 
primitive Christianity. From all sides and by the help 
of every conceivable instrument those facts have been 
investigated, and now at last the great result 'the 
revivified reconceived truth' seems ready to emerge. 
Much may still be known much can never be known ; 
but if we will, we may now discern the true features 
of Jesus of Nazareth, as no generation but our own 
has been able to discern them, since those who had 
seen and handled passed away. 

'Let me try, however feebly, and draw it afresh for 
you, that life of lives, that story of stories, as the 
labour of our own age in particular has patiently re- 
vealed it to us. Come back with me through the cen- 
turies; let us try and see the Christ of Galilee and the 
[ 359 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Christ of Jerusalem as he was, before a credulous love 
and Jewish tradition and Greek subtlety had at once 
dimmed and glorified the truth. Ah ! do what we will, 
it is so scanty and poor, this knowledge of ours, com- 
pared with all that we yearn to know but, such as 
it is, let me, very humbly and very tentatively, en- 
deavour to put it before you/ 

At this point Flaxman's attention was suddenly 
distracted by a stir round the door of entrance on 
his left hand. Looking round, he saw a Ritualist 
priest, in cassock and cloak, disputing in hurried un- 
dertones with the men about the door. At last he 
gained his point apparently, for the men, with half- 
angry, half-quizzing looks at each other, allowed him 
to come in, and he found a seat. Flaxman was greatly 
struck by the face by its ascetic beauty, the stern 
and yet delicate whiteness and emaciation of it. He 
sat with both hands resting on the stick he held 
in front of him, intently listening, the perspiration 
of physical weakness on his brow and round his 
finely curved mouth. Clearly he could hardly see the 
lecturer, for the room had become inconveniently 
crowded, and the men about him were mostly stand- 
ing. 

'One of the St. Wilfrid's priests, I suppose/ Flax- 
man said to himself. 'What on earth is he doing dans 
cette gatire? Are we to have a disputation? That 
would be dramatic/ 

He had no attention, however, to spare, and the 

intruder was promptly forgotten. When he turned 

back to the platform he found that Robert, with 

Mackay's help, had hung on a screen to his right, 

[ 360 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

four or five large drawings of Nazareth, of the Lake 
of Gennesaret, of Jerusalem, and the Temple of Herod, 
of the ruins of that synagogue on the probable site 
of Capernaum in which conceivably Jesus may have 
stood. They were bold and striking, and filled the 
bare hall at once with suggestions of the East. He 
had used them often at Murewell. Then, adopting a 
somewhat different tone, he plunged into the life of 
Jesus. He brought to it all his trained historical 
power, all his story-telling faculty, all his sympathy 
with the needs of feeling. And bit by bit, as the quick 
nervous sentences issued and struck, each like the 
touch of a chisel, the majestic figure emerged, set 
against its natural background, instinct with some 
fraction at least of the magic of reality, most human, 
most persuasive, most tragic. He brought out the 
great words of the new faith, to which, whatever may 
be their literal origin, Jesus, and Jesus only, gave 
currency and immortal force. He dwelt on the magic, 
the permanence, the expansiveness, of the young Naza- 
rene's central conception the spiritualised, univers- 
alised 'Kingdom of God/ Elsmere's thought, indeed, 
knew nothing of a perfect man, as it knew nothing of 
an incarnate God ; he shrank from nothing that he 
believed true ; but every limitation, every reserve he 
allowed himself, did but make the whole more poign- 
antly real, and the claim of Jesus more penetrating. 

' The world has grown since Jesus preached in Gali- 
lee and Judaea. We cannot learn the whole of God's 
lesson from him now nay, we could not then! But 
all that is most essential to man all that saves the 
soul, all that purifies the heart that he has still for 
[ 361 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

you and me, as he had it for the men and women of 
his own time/ 

Then he came to the last scenes. His voice sank a 
little; his notes dropped from his hand ; and the silence 
grew oppressive. The dramatic force, the tender pas- 
sionate insight, the fearless modernness with which 
the story was told, made it almost unbearable. Those 
listening saw the trial, the streets of Jerusalem, that 
desolate place outside the northern gate; they were 
spectators of the torture, they heard the last cry. 
No one present had ever so seen, so heard before. 
Rose had hidden her face. Flaxman for the first time 
forgot to watch the audience; the men had forgotten 
each other ; and for the first time that night, in many 
a cold embittered heart, there was born that love of 
the Son of Man which Nathaniel felt, and John, and 
Mary of Bethany, and which has in it now, as then, 
the promise of the future. 

' "He laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of 
a rock, and he rolled a stone against the door of the 
tomb." The ashes of Jesus of Nazareth mingled with 
the earth of Palestine 

' " Far hence he lies 
In the lorn Syrian town, 
And on his grave, with shining eyes, 
The Syrian stars look down." J 

He stopped. The melancholy cadence of the verse 
died away. Then a gleam broke over the pale ex- 
hausted face a gleam of extraordinary sweetness. 

'And in the days and weeks that followed the de- 
vout and passionate fancy of a few mourning Galileans 
begat the exquisite fable of the Resurrection. How 



NEW OPENINGS 

natural and amid all its falseness, how true is 
that naive and contradictory story ! The rapidity with 
which it spread is a measure of many things. It is, 
above all, a measure of the greatness of Jesus, of the 
force with which he had drawn to himself the hearts 
and imaginations of men. . . . 

'And now, my friends, what of all this? If these 
things I have been saying to you are true, what is the 
upshot of them for you and me? Simply this, as I 
conceive it that instead of wasting your time, and 
degrading your souls, by indulgence in such grime as 
this' and he pointed to the newspapers 'it is 
your urgent business and mine at this moment - 
to do our very utmost to bring this life of Jesus, our 
precious invaluable possession as a people, back into 
some real and cogent relation with our modern lives 
and beliefs and hopes. Do not answer me that such 
an effort is a mere dream and futility, conceived in 
the vague, apart from reality that men must have 
something to worship, and that if they cannot worship 
Jesus, they will not trouble to love him. Is the world 
desolate with God still in it, and does it rest merely 
with us to love or not to love? Love and revere some- 
thing we must, if we are to be men and not beasts. At 
all times and in all nations, as I have tried to show you, 
man has helped himself by the constant and passionate 
memory of those great ones of his race who have 
spoken to him most audibly of God and of eternal hope. 
And for us Europeans and Englishmen, as I have also 
tried to show you, history and inheritance have de- 
cided. If we turn away from the true Jesus of Nazareth 
because he has been disfigured and misrepresented 
[ 363 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

by the Churches, we turn away from that in which our 
weak wills and desponding souls -are meant to find 
their most obvious and natural help and inspiration 
from that symbol of the Divine, which, of necessity, 
means most to us. No ! give him back your hearts - 
be ashamed that you have ever forgotten your debt 
to him ! Let combination and brotherhood do for the 
newer and simpler faith what they did once for the 
old let them give it a practical shape, a practical 
grip on human life. . . . Then we too shall have our 
Easter we too shall have the right to say, He is not 
here, he is risen. Not here in legend, in miracle, in 
the beautiful outworn forms and crystallisations of 
older thought. He is risen in a wiser reverence and 
a more reasonable love; risen in new forms of social 
help inspired by his memory, called afresh by his 
name ! Risen if you and your children will it in 
a church or company of the faithful, over the gates 
of which two sayings of man's past, into which man's 
present has breathed new meanings, shall be writ- 
ten: 

'"In Thee, O Eternal, have I put my trust": 

and - 

' " This do in remembrance of Me." ' 

The rest was soon over. The audience woke from 
the trance in which it had been held with a sudden 
burst of talk and movement. In the midst of it, and 
as the majority of the audience were filing out into 
the adjoining rooms, the gasfitter's tall companion 
Andrews mounted the platform, while the gasfitter 
[ 364 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

himself, with an impatient shrug, pushed his way into 
the outgoing crowd. Andrews went slowly and de- 
liberately to work, dealing out his long cantankerous 
sentences with a nasal sang-froid which seemed to 
change in a moment the whole aspect and temperature 
of things. He remarked that Mr. Elsmere had talked 
of what great scholars had done to clear up this matter 
of Christ and Christianity. Well, he was free to main- 
tain that old Tom Paine was as good a scholar as any 
of 'em, and most of them in that hall knew what he 
thought about it. Tom Paine had n't anything to say 
against Jesus Christ, and he had n't. He was a work- 
man and a fine sort of man, and if he'd been alive now 
he'd have been a Socialist, 'as most of us are, 'and he'd 
have made it hot for the rich loafers, and the sweaters, 
and the middlemen, 'as we'd like to make it hot for 
'em,' But as for those people who got up the Church 
- Mythologists Tom Paine called 'em and the 
miracles, and made an uncommonly good thing out 
of it, pecuniarily speaking, he did n't see what they'd 
got to do with keeping up, or mending, or preserving 
their precious bit of work. The world had found 'em 
out, and serve 'em right. 

And he wound up with a fierce denunciation of 
priests, not without a harsh savour and eloquence, 
which was much clapped by the small knot of work- 
men amongst whom he had been standing. 

Then there followed a Socialist an eager, ugly, 
black-bearded little fellow, who preached the absolute 
necessity of doing without 'any cultus whatsoever,' 
threw scorn on both the Christians and the Positivists 
for refusing so to deny themselves, and appealed 
[ 365 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

earnestly to his group of hearers 'to help in bringing 
religion back from heaven to earth, where it belongs/ 
Mr. Elsmere's new church, if he ever got it, would only 
be a fresh instrument in the hands of the bourgeoisie. 
And when the people had got their rights and brought 
down the capitalists, they were not going to be such 
fools as to put their necks under the heel of what were 
called 'the educated classes/ The people who wrote 
the newspapers Mr. Elsmere objected to, knew quite 
enough for the workingman and people should not 
be too smooth-spoken ; what the working class wanted 
beyond everything just now was grit. 

A few other short speeches followed, mostly of the 
common Secularist type, in defence of the newspapers 
attacked. But the defence, on the whole, was shuffling 
and curiously half-hearted. Robert, sitting by with 
his head on his hand, felt that there, at any rate, his 
onslaught had told. 

He said a few words in reply, in a low husky voice, 
without a trace of his former passion, and the meeting 
broke up. The room had quickly filled when it was 
known that he was up again ; and as he descended the 
steps of the platform, after shaking hands with the 
chairman, the hundreds present broke into a sudden 
burst of cheering. Lady Charlotte pressed forward to 
him through the crowd, offering to take him home. 
'Come with us, Mr. Elsmere; you look like a ghost/ 
But he shook his head, smiling. ' No, thank you, Lady 
Charlotte I must have some air,' and he took her 
out on his arm, while Flaxman followed with Rose. 

It once occurred to Flaxman to look round for the 
priest he had seen come in. But there were no signs 
[ 366 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

of him. 'I had an idea he would have spoken/ he 
thought. 'Just as well, perhaps. We should have had 
a row/ 

Lady Charlotte threw herself back in the carriage 
as they drove off, with a long breath, and the inward 
reflexion, 'So his wife would n't come and hear him! 
Must be a woman with a character that a Straff ord 
in petticoats!' 

Robert turned up the street to the City, the tall 
slight figure seeming to shrink together as he walked. 
After his passionate effort, indescribable depression 
had overtaken him. 

'Words words!' he said to himself, striking out 
his hands in a kind of feverish protest, as he strode 
along, against his own powerlessness, against that 
weight of the present and the actual which seems to 
the enthusiast alternately light as air, or heavy as the 
mass of ^Etna on the breast of Enceladus. 

Suddenly, at the corner of a street, a man's figure in a 
long black robe stopped him and laid a hand on his arm. 

'Newcome!' cried Robert, standing still. 

'I was there,' said the other, bending forward and 
looking close into his eyes. 'I heard almost all. I 
went to confront, to denounce you ! ' 

By the light of a lamp not far off Robert caught the 
attenuated whiteness and sharpness of the well-known 
face, to which weeks of fasting and mystical excite- 
ment had given a kind of unearthly remoteness. He 
gathered himself together with an inward groan. He 
felt as though there were no force in him at that 
moment wherewith to meet reproaches, to beat down 
[ 367 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

fanaticism. The pressure on nerve and strength 
seemed unbearable. 

Newcome, watching him with eagle eye, saw the 
sudden shrinking and hesitation. He had often in old 
days felt the same sense of power over the man who 
yet, in what seemed his weakness, had always escaped 
him in the end. 

'I went to denounce/ he continued, in a strange 
tense voice, 'and the Lord refused it to me. He kept 
me watching for you here. These words are not mine 
I speak. I waited patiently in that room till the Lord 
should deliver His enemy into my hand. My wrath 
was hot against the deserter that could not even 
desert in silence hot against his dupes. Then sud- 
denly words came to me they have come to me 
before, they burn up the very heart and marrow in me 
- " Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, and the 
Lord commandeth it not?" There they were in my ears, 
written on the walls the air - 

The hand dropped from Robert's arm. A dull look 
of defeat, of regret, darkened the gleaming eyes. They 
were standing in a quiet deserted street, but through 
a side opening the lights, the noise, the turbulence of 
the open-air market came drifting to them through 
the rainy atmosphere which blurred and magnified 
everything. 

'Aye, after days and nights in His most blessed 
sanctuary/ Newcome resumed slowly, 'I came by His 
commission, as I thought, to fight His battle with a 
traitor ! And at the last moment His strength, which 
was in me, went from me. I sat there dumb ; His hand 
was heavy upon me. His will be done ! ' 
[ 368 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

The voice sank; the priest drew his thin shaking 
hand across his eyes, as though the awe of a mysteri- 
ous struggle were still upon him. Then he turned again 
to Elsmere, his face softening, radiating. 

'Elsmere, take the sign, the message! I thought it 
was given to me to declare the Lord's wrath. Instead, 
He sends you once more by me, even now even 
fresh from this new defiance of His mercy, the tender 
offer of His grace ! He lies at rest to-night; my brother ' 
what sweetness in the low vibrating tones! ' after 
all the anguish. Let me draw you down on your knees 
beside Him. It is you, you, who have helped to drive 
in the nails, to embitter the agony ! It is you who in 
His loneliness have been robbing Him of the souls that 
should be His! It is you who have been doing your 
utmost to make His Cross and Passion of no effect. 
Oh, let it break your heart to think of it ! Watch by 
Him to-night, my friend, my brother, and to-morrow 
let the risen Lord reclaim His own ! ' 

Never had Robert seen any mortal face so persuas- 
ively beautiful ; never surely did saint or ascetic plead 
with a more penetrating gentleness. After the storm 
of those opening words the change was magical. The 
tears stood in Elsmere's eyes. But his quick insight, 
in spite of himself, divined the subtle natural facts 
behind the outburst, the strained physical state, the 
irritable brain all the consequences of a long defi- 
ance of physical and mental law. The priest repelled 
him, the man drew him like a magnet. 

'What can I say to you, Newcome?' he cried de- 
spairingly. 'Let me say nothing, dear old friend! I 
am tired out; so, I expect, are you. I know what this 
[ 369 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

week has been to you. Walk with me a little. Leave 
these great things alone. We cannot agree. Be content 
- God knows ! Tell me about the old place and the 
people. I long for news of them.' 

A sort of shudder passed through his companion. 
Newcome stood wrestling with himself. It was like 
the slow departure of a possessing force. Then he 
sombrely assented, and they turned towards the City. 
But his answers, as Robert questioned him, were sharp 
and mechanical, and presently it became evident that 
the demands of the ordinary talk to which Elsmere 
rigorously held him were more than he could bear. 

As they reached St. Paul's, towering into the watery 
moonlight of the clouded sky, he stopped abruptly 
and said good-night. 

'You came to me in the spirit of war,' said Robert, 
with some emotion, as he held his hand; 'give me in- 
stead the grasp of peace ! ' 

The spell of his manner, his presence, prevailed at 
last. A melancholy quivering smile dawned on the 
priest's delicate lip. 

'God bless you God restore you!' he said sadly, 
and was gone. 



CHAPTER XLI 

A WEEK later Elsmere was startled to find himself 
detained, after his story-telling, by a trio of workmen, 
asking on behalf of some thirty or forty members of 
the North R - Club that he would give them a 
course of lectures on the New Testament. One of them 
was the gasfitter Charles Richards; another was the 
watchmaker Lestrange, who had originally challenged 
Robert to deliver himself ; and the third was a tough 
old Scotchman of sixty with a philosophical turn, 
under whose spoutings of Hume and Locke, of Reid 
and Dugald Stewart, delivered in the shrillest of 
cracked voices, the club had writhed many an im- 
patient half -hour on debating nights. He had an 
unexpected artistic gift, a kind of 'sport' as compared 
with the rest of his character, which made him a 
valued designer in the pottery works; but his real 
interests were speculative and argumentative, con- 
cerned with 'common nawtions and the praimary 
elements of reason/ and the appearance of Robert in 
the district seemed to offer him at last a f oeman worthy 
of his steel. Elsmere shrewdly suspected that the last 
two looked forward to any teaching he might give 
mostly as a new and favourable exercising ground for 
their own wits; but he took the risk, gladly accepted 
the invitation, and fixed Sunday afternoons for a 
weekly New Testament lecture. 
His first lecture, which he prepared with great care, 
t 371 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

was delivered to thirty-seven men a fortnight later. 
It was on the political and social state of Palestine 
and the East at the time of Christ's birth ; and Robert, 
who was as fervent a believer in 'large maps' as Lord 
Salisbury, had prepared a goodly store of them for 
the occasion, together with a number of drawings and 
photographs which formed part of the collection he 
had been gradually making since his own visit to the 
Holy Land. There was nothing he laid more stress on 
than these helps to the eye and imagination in dealing 
with the Bible. He was accustomed to maintain in 
his arguments with Hugh Flaxman that the orthodox 
traditional teaching of Christianity would become im- 
possible as soon as it should be the habit to make a 
free and modern use of history and geography and 
social material in connexion with the Gospels. No- 
thing tends so much, he would say, to break down the 
irrational barrier which men have raised about this 
particular tract of historical space, nothing helps so 
much to let in the light and air of scientific thought 
upon it, and therefore nothing prepares the way so 
effectively for a series of new conceptions. 

By a kind of natural selection Richards became 
Elsmere's chief helper and adjutant in the Sunday 
lectures, with regard to all such matters as beating 
up recruits, keeping guard over portfolios, handing 
round maps and photographs, etc., supplanting in 
this function the jealous and sensitive Mackay, who, 
after his original opposition, had now arrived at re- 
garding Robert as his own particular property, and 
the lecturer's quick smile of thanks for services ren- 
dered as his own especial right. The bright, quick- 
[ 372 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

silvery, irascible little workman, however, was irre- 
sistible and had his way. He had taken a passion for 
Robert as for a being of another order and another 
world. In the discussions which generally followed 
the lecture he showed a receptiveness, an intelligence, 
which were in reality a matter not of the mind but 
of the heart. He loved, therefore he understood. At 
the club he stood for Elsmere with a quivering spas- 
modic eloquence, as against Andrews and the Secular- 
ists. One thing only puzzled Robert. Among all the 
little fellow's sallies and indiscretions, which were not 
infrequent, no reference to his home life was ever 
included. Here he kept even Robert absolutely at 
arm's length. Robert knew that he was married and 
had children, nothing more. 

The old Scotchman, Macdonald, came out after the 
first lecture somewhat crestfallen. 

'Not the sort of stooff I'd expected!' he said, with 
a shade of perplexity on the rugged face. 'He doos n't 
talk eneuf in the aabstract for me.' 

But he went again, and the second lecture, on the 
origin of the Gospels, got hold of him, especially as it 
supplied him with a whole armoury of new arguments 
in support of Hume's doctrine of conscience, and in 
defiance of 'that blatin' creetur, Reid.' The thesis 
with which Robert, drawing on some of the stores 
supplied him by the squire's book, began his account 
- i.e., the gradual growth within the limits of history 
of man's capacity for telling the exact truth fitted 
in, to the Scotchman's thinking, so providentially with 
his own favourite experimental doctrines as against 
the 'intueetion' folks, 'who will have it that a babby 's 
[ 373 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

got as moch mind as Mr. Gladstone, ef it only knew 
it ! ' that afterwards he never missed a lecture. 

Lestrange was more difficult. He had the inherited 
temperament of the Genevese frondeur, which made 
Geneva the headquarters of Calvinism in the sixteenth 
century, and bids fair to make her the headquarters 
of Continental Radicalism in the nineteenth. Robert 
never felt his wits so much stretched and sharpened 
as when after the lecture Lestrange was putting ques- 
tions and objections with an acrid subtlety and per- 
sistence worthy of a descendant of that burgher class 
which first built up the Calvinistic system and then 
produced the destroyer of it in Rousseau. Robert bore 
his heckling, however, with great patience and adroit- 
ness. He had need of all he knew, as Murray Edwardes 
had warned him. But luckily he knew a great deal; 
his thought was clearing and settling month by month, 
and whatever he may have lost at any moment by the 
turn of an argument, he recovered immediately after- 
wards by the force of personality, and of a single- 
mindedness in which there was never a trace of 
personal grasping. 

Week by week the lecture became more absorbing 
to him, the men more pliant, his hold on them firmer. 
His disinterestedness, his brightness and resource, 
perhaps, too, the signs about him of a light and frail 
physical organisation, the novelty of his position, the 
inventiveness of his method, gave him little by little 
an immense power in the place. After the first two 
lectures Murray Edwardes became his constant and 
enthusiastic hearer on Sunday afternoons, and, catch- 
ing some of Robert's ways and spirit, he gradually 
[ 374 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

brought his own chapel and teaching more and more 
into line with the Elgood Street undertaking. So that 
the venture of the two men began to take ever larger 
proportions ; and, kindled by the growing interest and 
feeling about him, dreams began to rise in Elsmere's 
mind which as yet he hardly dared to cherish ; which 
came and went, however, weaving a substance for 
themselves out of each successive incident and effort. 
Meanwhile he was at work on an average three 
evenings in the week besides the Sunday. In West 
End drawing-rooms his personal gift had begun to 
tell no less than in this crowded, squalid East ; and as 
his aims became known, other men, finding the 
thoughts of their own hearts revealed in him, or 
touched with that social compunction which is one 
of the notes of our time, came down and became his 
helpers. Of all the social projects of which that Elgood 
Street room became the centre, Elsmere was, in some 
sense, the life and inspiration. But it was not these 
projects themselves which made this period of his life 
remarkable. London at the present moment, if it be 
honeycombed with vice and misery, is also honey- 
combed with the labour of an ever-expanding charity. 
Week by week men and women of like gifts and 
energies with Elsmere spend themselves, as he did, in 
the constant effort to serve and to alleviate. What 
was noticeable, what was remarkable in this work of 
his, was the spirit, the religious passion which, radiat- 
ing from him, began after a while to kindle the whole 
body of men about him. It was from his Sunday 
lectures and his talks with the children, boys and 
girls, who came in after the lecture to spend a happy 
[ 375 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

hour and a half with him on Sunday afternoons, that 
in later years hundreds of men and women will date 
the beginnings of a new absorbing life. There came 
a time, indeed, when, instead of meeting criticism by 
argument, Robert was able simply to point to accom- 
plished facts. 'You ask me/ he would say in effect, 
'to prove to you that men can love, can make a new 
and fruitful use, for daily life and conduct, of a merely 
human Christ. Go amongst our men, talk to our child- 
ren, and satisfy yourself. A little while ago scores of 
these men either hated the very name of Christianity 
or were entirely indifferent to it. To scores of them 
now the name of the teacher of Nazareth, the victim 
of Jerusalem, is dear and sacred ; his life, his death, his 
words, are becoming once more a constant source of 
moral effort and spiritual hope. See for yourself ! ' 

However, we are anticipating. Let us go back to 
May. 

One beautiful morning Robert was sitting working 
in his study, his windows open to the breezy blue 
sky and the budding plane-trees outside, when the 
door was thrown open and 'Mr. Wendover' was 
announced. 

The squire entered ; but what a shrunken and aged 
squire! The gait was feeble, the bearing had lost all 
its old erectness, the bronzed strength of the face had 
given place to a waxen and ominous pallor. Robert, 
springing up with joy to meet the great gust of Mure- 
well air which seemed to blow about him with the 
mention of the squire's name, was struck, arrested. 
He guided his guest to a chair with an almost filial 
carefulness. 

[ 376 1 



NEW OPENINGS 

'I don't believe, Squire/ he exclaimed, 'you ought 
to be doing this wandering about London by your- 
self!' 

But the squire, as silent and angular as ever when 
anything personal to himself was concerned, would 
take no notice of the implied anxiety and sympathy. 
He grasped his umbrella between his knees with a 
pair of brown twisted hands, and, sitting very upright, 
looked critically round the room. Robert, studying 
the dwindled figure, remembered with a pang the say- 
ing of another Oxford scholar, a propos of the death of 
a young man of extraordinary promise, ' What learn- 
ing has perished with him! How vain seems all toil to 
acquire!' --and the words, as they passed through 
his mind, seemed to him to ring another death-knell. 

But after the first painful impression he could not 
help losing himself in the pleasure of the familiar face, 
the Murewell associations. 

'How is the village, and the Institute? And what 
sort of man is my successor the man, I mean, who 
came after Armitstead?' 

'I had him once to dinner/ said the squire briefly; 
'he made a false quantity, and asked me to subscribe 
to the Church Missionary Society. I have n't seen him 
since. He and the village have been at loggerheads 
about the Institute, I believe. He wanted to turn out 
the Dissenters. Bateson came to me, and we circum- 
vented him, of course. But the man's an ass. Don't 
talk of him!' 

Robert sighed a long sigh. Was all his work undone? 
It wrung his heart to remember the opening of the 
Institute, the ardour of his boys. He asked a few 
[ 377 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

questions about individuals, but soon gave it up as 
hopeless. The squire neither knew nor cared. 

'And Mrs. Darcy?' 

'My sister had tea in her thirtieth summer-house 
last Sunday/ remarked the squire grimly. ' She wished 
me to communicate the fact to you and Mrs. Elsmere. 
Also, that the worst novel of the century will be out 
in a fortnight, and she trusts to you to see it well 
reviewed in all the leading journals/ 

Robert laughed, but it was not very easy to laugh. 
There was a sort of ghastly undercurrent in the squire's 
sarcasms that effectually deprived them of anything 
mirthful. 

'And your book?' 

'Is in abeyance. I shall bequeath you the manu- 
script in my will, to do what you like with/ 

'Squire!' 

' Quite true ! If you had stayed, I should have fin- 
ished it, I suppose. But after a certain age the toil 
of spinning cobwebs entirely out of his own brain 
becomes too much for a man/ 

It was the first thing of the sort that iron mouth 
had ever said to him. Elsmere was painfully touched. 

'You must not you shall not give it up,' he urged. 
'Publish the first part alone, and ask me for any help 
you please/ 

The squire shook his head. 

'Let it be. Your paper in the Nineteenth Century 
showed me that the best thing I can do is to hand 
on my materials to you. Though I am not sure that 
when you have got them you will make the best use 
of them. You and Grey between you call yourselves 
[ 378 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

Liberals, and imagine yourselves reformers, and all 
the while you are doing nothing but playing into the 
hands of the Blacks. All this theistic philosophy of 
yours only means so much grist to their mill in the end/ 

'They don't see it in that light themselves/ said 
Robert, smiling. 

'No/ returned the squire, 'because most men are 
puzzle-heads. Why/ he added, looking darkly at Rob- 
ert, while the great head fell forward on his breast in 
the familiar Murewell attitude, 'why can't you do 
your work and let the preaching alone? ' 

'Because/ said Robert, 'the preaching seems to me 
my work. There is the great difference between us, 
Squire. You look upon knowledge as an end in itself. 
It may be so. But to me knowledge has always been 
valuable first and foremost for its bearing on life.' 

'Fatal twist that/ returned the squire harshly. 
'Yes, I know; it was always in you. Well, are you 
happy? does this new crusade of yours give you 
pleasure?' 

'Happiness/ replied Robert, leaning against the 
chimneypiece and speaking in a low voice, 'is always 
relative. No one knows it better than you. Life is 
full of oppositions. But the work takes my whole 
heart and all my energies.' 

The squire looked at him in disapproving silence 
for a while. 

'You will bury your life in it miserably/ he said 
at last; 'it will be a toil of Sisyphus leaving no trace 
behind it; whereas such a book as you might write 
if you gave your life to it, might live and work, and 
harry the enemy when you are gone/ 
[ 379 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Robert forbore the natural retort. 

The squire went round his library, making remarks, 
with all the caustic shrewdness natural to him, on 
the new volumes that Robert had acquired since their 
walks and talks together. 

'The Germans/ he said at last, putting back a book 
into the shelves with a new accent of distaste and 
weariness, 'are beginning to founder in the sea of their 
own learning. Sometimes I think I will read no more 
German. It is a nation of learned fools, none of whom 
ever sees an inch beyond his own professorial nose/ 

Then he stayed to luncheon, and Catherine, moved 
by many feelings perhaps in subtle striving against 
her own passionate sense of wrong at this man's 
hands was kind to him, and talked and smiled, 
indeed, so much that the squire for the first time 
in his life took individual notice of her, and as 
he parted with Elsmere in the hall made the remark 
that Mrs. Elsmere seemed to like London, to which 
Robert, busy in an opportune search for his guest's 
coat, made no reply. 

'When are you coming to Murewell?' the squire 
said to him abruptly, as he stood at the door muffled 
up as though it were December. 'There are a good 
many points in that last article you want talking to 
about. Come next month with Mrs. Elsmere/ 

Robert drew a long breath, inspired by many 
feelings. 

'I will come, but not yet. I must get broken in 

here more thoroughly first. Murewell touches me too 

deeply, and my wife. You are going abroad in the 

summer, you say. Let me come to you in the autumn/ 

[ 380 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

The squire said nothing, and went his way, leaning 
heavily on his stick, across the square. Robert felt 
himself a brute to let him go, and almost ran after him. 

That evening Robert was disquieted by the receipt 
of a note from a young fellow of St. Anselm's, an 
intimate friend and occasional secretary of Grey. 
Grey, the writer said, had received Robert's last letter, 
was deeply interested in his account of his work, and 
begged him to write again. He would have written, 
but that he was himself in the doctor's hands, suffer- 
ing from various ills, probably connected with an at- 
tack of malarial fever which had befallen him in Rome 
the year before. 

Catherine found him poring over the letter, and, 
as it seemed to her, oppressed by an anxiety out of 
all proportion to the news itself. 

'They are not really troubled, I think/ she said, 
kneeling down beside him, and laying her cheek 
against his. 'He will soon get over it, Robert/ 

But, alas ! this mood, the tender characteristic mood 
of the old Catherine, was becoming rarer and rarer 
with her. As the spring expanded, as the sun and the 
leaves came back, poor Catherine's temper had only 
grown more wintry and more rigid. Her life was full 
of moments of acute suffering. Never, for instance, 
did she forget the evening of Robert's lecture to the 
club. All the time he was away she had sat brooding 
by herself in the drawing-room, divining with a bitter 
clairvoyance all that scene in which he was taking 
part, her being shaken with a tempest of misery and 
repulsion. And together with that torturing image 
of a glaring room in which her husband, once Christ's 
[ 381 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

loyal minister, was employing all his powers of mind 
and speech to make it easier for ignorant men to de- 
sert and fight against the Lord who bought them, 
there mingled a hundred memories of her father 
which were now her constant companions. In pro- 
portion as Robert and she became more divided, her 
dead father resumed a ghostly hold upon her. There 
were days when she went about rigid and silent, in 
reality living altogether in the past, among the grey 
farms, the crags, and the stony ways of the mountains. 

At such times her mind would be full of pictures of 
her father's ministrations his talks with the shep- 
herds on the hills, with the women at their doors, his 
pale dreamer's face beside some wild deathbed, shin- 
ing with the Divine message, the "visions" which 
to her awestruck childish sense would often seem to 
hold him in their silent walks among the misty hills. 

Robert, taught by many small indications, came 
to recognise these states of feeling in her with a dismal 
clearness, and to shrink more and more sensitively 
while they lasted from any collision with her. He 
kept his work, his friends, his engagements to him- 
self, talking resolutely of other things, she trying to 
do the same, but with less success, as her nature was 
less pliant than his. 

Then there would come moments when the inward 
preoccupation would give way, and that strong need 
of loving, which was, after all, the basis of Catherine's 
character, would break hungrily through, and the wife 
of their early married days would reappear, though 
still only with limitations. A certain nervous physical 
dread of any approach to a particular range of subjects 
[ 382 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

with her husband was always present in her. Nay, 
through all these months it gradually increased in 
morbid strength. Shock had produced it; perhaps 
shock alone could loosen the stifling pressure of it. But 
still every now and then her mood was brighter, more 
caressing, and the area of common mundane interests 
seemed suddenly to broaden for them. 

Robert did not always make a wise use of these 
happier times; he was incessantly possessed with his 
old idea that if she only would allow herself some 
very ordinary intercourse with his world, her mood 
would become less strained, his occupations and his 
friends would cease to be such bugbears to her, and, 
for his comfort and hers, she might ultimately be able 
to sympathise with certain sides at any rate of his 
work. 

So again and again, when her manner no longer 
threw him back on himself, he made efforts and 
experiments. But he managed them far less cleverly 
than he would have managed anybody else's affairs, 
as generally happens. For instance, at a period when 
he was feeling more enthusiasm than usual for his 
colleague Wardlaw, and when Catherine was more 
accessible than usual, it suddenly occurred to him to 
make an effort to bring them together. Brought face 
to face, each must recognise the nobleness of the other. 
He felt boyishly confident of it. So he made it a 
point, tenderly but insistently, that Catherine should 
ask Wardlaw and his wife to come and see them. And 
Catherine, driven obscurely by a longing to yield in 
something, which recurred, and often terrified herself, 
yielded in this. 

[ 383 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

The Wardlaws, who in general never went into so- 
ciety, were asked to a quiet dinner in Bedford Square, 
and came. Then, of course, it appeared that Robert, 
with the idealist's blindness, had forgotten a hundred 
small differences of temperament and training which 
must make it impossible for Catherine, in a state of 
tension, to see the hero in James Wardlaw. It was 
an unlucky dinner. James Wardlaw, with all his hero- 
isms and virtues, had long ago dropped most of those 
delicate intuitions and divinations, which make the 
charm of life in society, along the rough paths of a 
strenuous philanthropy. He had no tact, and, like 
most saints, he drew a certain amount of inspiration 
from a contented ignorance of his neighbour's point 
of view. Also, he was not a man who made much of 
women, and he held strong views as to the subor- 
dination of wives. It never occurred to him that 
Robert might have a Dissenter in his own household, 
and as, in spite of their speculative differences, he 
had always been accustomed to talk freely with Rob- 
ert, he now talked freely to Robert plus his wife, 
assuming, as every good Comtist does, that the 
husband is the wife's pope. 

Moreover, a solitary eccentric life, far from the so- 
ciety of his equals, had developed in him a good many 
crude Jacobinisms. His experience of London clergy- 
men, for instance, had not been particularly favour- 
able, and he had a store of anecdotes on the subject 
which Robert had heard before, but which now, re- 
peated in Catherine's presence, seemed to have lost 
every shred of humour they once possessed. Poor 
Elsmere tried with all his might to divert the stream, 
[ 384 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

but it showed a tormenting tendency to recur to the 
same channel. And meanwhile the little spectacled 
wife, dressed in a high home-made cashmere, sat look- 
ing at her husband with a benevolent and smiling 
admiration. She kept all her eloquence for the poor. 

After dinner things grew worse. Mrs. Wardlaw had 
recently presented her husband with a third infant, 
and the ardent pair had taken advantage of the visit 
to London of an eminent French Comtist to have it 
baptized with full Comtist rites. Wardlaw stood astride 
on the rug, giving the assembled company a minute 
account of the ceremony observed, while his wife threw 
in gentle explanatory interjections. The manner of 
both showed a certain exasperating confidence, if not 
in the active sympathy, at least in the impartial curi- 
osity of their audience, and in the importance to mod- 
ern religious history of the incident itself. Catherine's 
silence grew deeper and deeper; the conversation fell 
entirely to Robert. At last Robert, by main force, as 
it jvere, got Wardlaw off into politics, but the new 
Irish Coercion Bill was hardly introduced before the 
irrepressible being turned to Catherine, and said to 
her with smiling obtuseness, 

'I don't believe I've seen you at one of your hus- 
band's Sunday addresses yet, Mrs. Elsmere? And it 
is n't so far from this part of the world either.' 

Catherine slowly raised her beautiful large eyes upon 
him. Robert, looking at her with a qualm, saw an 
expression he was learning to dread flash across the 
face. 

'I have my Sunday-school at that time, Mr. Ward- 
law. I am a Church woman/ 
[ 385 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

The tone had a touch of hauteur Robert had hardly 
ever heard from his wife before. It effectually stopped 
all further conversation. Wardlaw fell into silence, 
reflecting that he had been a fool. His wife, with a 
timid flush, drew out her knitting, and stuck to it for 
the twenty minutes that remained. Catherine imme- 
diately did her best to talk, to be pleasant; but the 
discomfort of the little party was too great. It broke 
up at ten, and the Wardlaws departed. 

Catherine stood on the rug while Elsmere went with 
his guests to the door, waiting restlessly for her hus- 
band's return. Robert, however, came back to her, 
tired, wounded, and out of spirits, feeling that the 
attempt had been wholly unsuccessful, and shrinking 
from any further talk about it. He at once sat down 
to some letters for the late post. Catherine lingered a 
little, watching him, longing miserably, like any girl 
of eighteen, to throw herself on his neck and reproach 
him for their unhappiness, his friends she knew not 
what ! He all the time was intimately conscious of .her 
presence, of her pale beauty, which now at twenty- 
nine, in spite of its severity, had a subtler finish and 
attraction than ever, of the restless little movements 
so unlike herself, which she made from time to time. 
But neither spoke except upon indifferent things. 
Once more the difficult conditions of their lives seemed 
too obvious, too oppressive. Both were ultimately 
conquered by the same sore impulse to let speech 
alone. 



CHAPTER XLII 

AND after this little scene, through the busy exciting 
weeks of the season which followed, Robert, taxed to 
the utmost on all sides, yielded to the impulse of 
silence more and more. 

Society was another difficulty between them. Rob- 
ert delighted in it so far as his East End life allowed 
him to have it. No one was ever more ready to take 
other men and women at their own valuation than he. 
Nothing was so easy to him as to believe in other 
people's goodness, or cleverness, or superhuman 
achievement. On the other hand, London is kind to 
such men as Robert Elsmere. His talk, his writing, 
were becoming known and relished ; and even the most 
rigid of the old school found it difficult to be angry 
with him. His knowledge of the poor and of social 
questions attracted the men of action; his growing 
historical reputation drew the attention of the men 
of thought. Most people wished to know him and to 
talk to him, and Catherine, smiled upon for his sake, 
and assumed to be his chief disciple, felt herself more 
and more bewildered and antagonistic as the season 
rushed on. 

For what pleasure could she get out of these dinners 
and these evenings, which supplied Robert with so 
much intellectual stimulus? With her all the moral 
nerves were jarring and out of tune. At any time 
Richard Ley burn's daughter would have found it hard 
[ 387 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

to tolerate a society where everything is an open 
question and all confessions of faith are more or less 
bad taste. But now, when there was no refuge to fall 
back upon in Robert's arms, no certainty of his sym- 
pathy nay, a certainty that, however tender and 
pitiful he might be, he would still think her wrong and 
mistaken ! She went here and there obediently because 
he wished; but her youth seemed to be ebbing, the 
old Murewell gaiety entirely left her, and people in 
general wondered why Elsmere should have married 
a wife older than himself, and apparently so unsuited 
to him in temperament. 

Especially was she tried at Madame de Netteville's. 
For Robert's sake she tried for a time to put aside 
her first impression and to bear Madame de Nette- 
ville's evenings little dreaming, poor thing, all the 
time that Madame de Netteville thought her presence 
at the famous 'Fridays' an incubus only to be put 
up with because the husband was becoming socially 
an indispensable. 

But after two or three Fridays Catherine's endur- 
ance failed her. On the last occasion she found herself 
late in the evening hemmed in behind Madame de 
Netteville and a distinguished African explorer, who 
was the lion of the evening. Eugenie de Netteville 
had forgotten her silent neighbour, and presently, 
with some biting little phrase or other, she asked the 
great man his opinion on a burning topic of the day, 
the results of Church Missions in Africa. The great 
man laughed, shrugged his shoulders, and ran lightly 
through a string of stories in which both missionaries 
and converts played parts which were either grotesque 
[ 388 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

or worse. Madame de Netteville thought the stories 
amusing, and as one ceased she provoked another, her 
black eyes full of a dry laughter, her white hand lazily 
plying her great ostrich fan. 

Suddenly a figure rose behind them. 

'Oh, Mrs. Elsmere!' said Madame de Netteville, 
starting, and then coolly recovering herself, 'I had no 
idea you were there all alone. I am afraid our con- 
versation has been disagreeable to you. I am afraid 
you are a friend of missions!' 

And her glance, turning from Catherine to her com- 
panion, made a little malicious signal to him which 
only he detected, as though bidding him take note of 
a curiosity. 

'Yes, I care for them, I wish for their success/ said 
Catherine, one hand, which trembled slightly, resting 
on the table beside her, her great grey eyes fixed on 
Madame de Netteville. 'No Christian has any right 
to do otherwise/ 

Poor brave goaded soul! She had a vague idea of 
'bearing testimony' as her father would have borne 
it in like circumstances. But she turned very pale. 
Even to her the word 'Christian' sounded like a bomb- 
shell in that room. The great traveller looked up 
astounded. He saw a tall woman in white with a 
beautiful head, a delicate face, a something indescrib- 
ably noble and unusual in her whole look and attitude. 
She looked like a Quaker prophetess like Dinah Morris 
in society like but his comparisons failed him. 
How did such a being come there? He was amazed; 
but he was a man of taste, and Madame de Netteville 
caught a certain aesthetic approbation in his look. 
F 389 1 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

She rose, her expression hard and bright as usual. 

'May one Christian pronounce for all?' she said with 
a scornful affectation of meekness. 'Mrs. Elsmere, 
please find some chair more comfortable than that 
ottoman ; and Mr. Ansdale, will you come and be in- 
troduced to Lady Aubrey?' 

After her guests had gone, Madame de Netteville 
came back to the fire flushed and frowning. It seemed 
to her that in that strange little encounter she had 
suffered, and she never forgot or forgave the smallest 
social discomfiture. 

'Can I put up with that again?' she asked herself, 
with a contemptuous hardening of the lip. ' I suppose 
I must if he cannot be got without her. But I have 
an instinct that it is over that she will not appear 
here again. Daudet might make use of her. I can't. 
What a specimen ! A boy-and-girl match, I suppose. 
What else could have induced that poor wretch to 
cut his throat in such fashion? He, of all men!' 

And Eugenie de Netteville stood thinking not, 
apparently, of the puritanical wife; the dangerous 
softness which overspread the face could have had 
no connexion with Catherine. 

Madame de Netteville's instinct was just. Catherine 
Elsmere never appeared again in her drawing-room. 

But, with a little sad confession of her own invinci- 
ble distaste, the wife pressed the husband to go with- 
out her. She urged it at a bitter moment, when it 
was clear to her that their lives must of necessity, even 
in outward matters, be more separate than before. 
Elsmere resisted for a time; then, lured one evening 
towards the end of February by the prospect conveyed 
[ 390 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

in a note from Madame de Netteville, wherein Cather- 
ine was mentioned in the most scrupulously civil terms, 
of meeting one of the most eminent of French critics, 
he went, and thenceforward went often. He had, so 
far, no particular liking for the hostess; he hated 
some of her habitues ; but there was no doubt that in 
some ways she made an admirable holder of a salon, 
and that round about her there was a subtle mixture 
of elements, a liberty of discussion and comment, to 
be found nowhere else. And how bracing and refresh- 
ing was that free play of equal mind to the man weary 
sometimes of his leader's role and weary of himself! 

As to the woman, his social naivete, which was 
extraordinary, but in a man of his type most natural, 
made him accept her exactly as he found her. If there 
were two or three people in Paris or London who 
knew or suspected incidents of Madame de Netteville's 
young married days which made her reception at 
some of the strictest English houses a matter of cynical 
amusement to them, not the remotest inkling of their 
knowledge was ever likely to reach Elsmere. He was 
not a man who attracted scandals. Nor was it any- 
body's interest to spread them. Madame de Nette- 
ville's position in London society was obviously 
excellent. If she had peculiarities of manner and 
speech they were easily supposed to be French. 
Meanwhile she was undeniably rich and distinguished, 
and gifted with a most remarkable power of protecting 
herself and her neighbours from boredom. At the 
same time, though Elsmere was, in truth, more inter- 
ested in her friends than in her, he could not possibly 
be insensible to the consideration shown for him in 
[ 391 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

her drawing-room. Madame de Netteville allowed 
herself plenty of jests with her intimates as to the 
young reformer's social simplicity, his dreams, his 
optimisms. But those intimates were the first to 
notice that as soon as he entered the room those opti- 
misms of his were adroitly respected. She had various 
delicate contrivances for giving him the lead; she 
exercised a kind of surveillance over the topics intro- 
duced; or in conversation with him she would play 
that most seductive part of the cynic shamed out of 
cynicism by the neighbourhood of the enthusiast. 

Presently she began to claim a practical interest in 
his Elgood Street work. Her offers were made with a 
curious mixture of sympathy and mockery. Elsmere 
could not take her seriously. But neither could he 
refuse to accept her money, if she chose to spend it on 
a library for Elgood Street, or to consult with her 
about the choice of books. This whim of hers created 
a certain friendly bond between them which was not 
present before. And on Elsmere '& side it was strength- 
ened when, one evening, in a corner of her inner draw- 
ing-room, Madame de Netteville suddenly, but very 
quietly, told him the story of her life her English 
youth, her elderly French husband, the death of her 
only child, and her flight as a young widow to England 
during the war of 1870. She told the story of the 
child, as it seemed to Elsmere, with a deliberate 
avoidance of emotion, nay, even with a certain hard- 
ness. But it touched him profoundly. And everything 
else that she said, though she professed no great regret 
for her husband, or for the break-up of her French 
life, and though every thing was reticent and measured, 



NEW OPENINGS 

deepened the impression of a real f orlornness behind 
all the outward brilliance and social importance. He 
began to feel a deep and kindly pity for her, coupled 
with an earnest wish that he could help her to make 
her life more adequate and satisfying. And all this 
he showed in the look of his frank grey eyes, in the 
cordial grasp of the hand with which he said good-bye 
to her. 

Madame de Netteville's gaze followed him out of 
the room the tall boyish figure, the nobly carried 
head. The riddle of her flushed cheek and sparkling 
eye was hard to read. But there were one or two 
persons living who could have read it, and who could 
have warned you that the true story of Eugenie de 
Netteville's life was written, not in her literary studies 
or her social triumphs, but in various recurrent out- 
breaks of unbridled impulse the secret, and in one 
or two cases the shameful landmarks of her past. And, 
as persons of experience, they could also have warned 
you that the cold intriguer, always mistress of herself, 
only exists in fiction, and that a certain poisoned and 
fevered interest in the religious leader, the young and 
pious priest, as such, is common enough among the 
corrupter women of all societies. 

Towards the end of May she asked Elsmere to dine 
'en petit comite, a gentlemen's dinner except for my 
cousin, Lady Aubrey Willert' to meet an eminent 
Liberal Catholic, a friend of Montalembert's youth. 

It was a week or two after the failure of the Ward- 
law experiment. Do what each would, the sore silence 
between the husband and wife was growing, was 
swallowing up more of life. 

[ 393 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Shall I go, Catherine?' he asked, handing her the 
note. 

'It would interest you/ she said gently, giving it 
back to him scrupulously, as though she had nothing 
to do with it. 

He knelt down before her, and put his arms round 
her, looking at her with eyes which had a dumb 
and yet fiery appeal written in them. His heart was 
hungry for that old clinging dependence, that willing 
weakness of love, her youth had yielded him so gladly, 
instead of this silent strength of antagonism. The 
memory of her Murewell self flashed miserably through 
him as he knelt there, of her delicate penitence towards 
him after her first sight of Newcome, of their night 
walks during the Mile End epidemic. Did he hold now 
in his arms only the ghost and shadow of that Mure- 
well Catherine? 

She must have read the reproach, the yearning of 
his look, for she gave a little shiver, as though bracing 
herself with a kind of agony to resist. 

'Let me go, Robert!' she said gently, kissing him on 
the forehead and drawing back. ' I hear Mary calling, 
and nurse is out.' 

The days went on and the date of Madame de 
Netteville's dinner-party had come round. About 
seven o'clock that evening Catherine sat with the child 
in the drawing-room, expecting Robert. He had gone 
off early in the afternoon to the East End with Hugh 
Flaxman to take part in a committee of workmen 
organized for the establishment of a choral union in 

R , the scheme of which had been Flaxman 's chief 

contribution so far to the Elgood Street undertaking. 
[ 394 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

It seemed to her as she sat there working, the win- 
dows open on to the bit of garden, where the trees 
were already withered and begrimed, that the air 
without and her heart within were alike stifling and 
heavy with storm. Something must put an end to this 
oppression, this misery! She did not know herself. 
Her whole inner being seemed to her lessened and 
degraded by this silent struggle, this fever of the 
soul, which made impossible all those serenities and 
sweetnesses of thought in which her nature had always 
lived of old. The fight into which fate had forced her 
was destroying her. She was drooping like a plant 
cut off from all that nourishes its life. 

And yet she never conceived it possible that she 
should relinquish that fight. Nay, at times there 
sprang up in her now a dangerous and despairing fore- 
sight of even worse things in store. In the middle of 
her suffering she already began to feel at moments the 
ascetic's terrible sense of compensation. What, after 
all, is the Christian life but warfare? '/ came not to 
send peace, but a sword! ' 

Yes, in these June days Elsmere's happiness was 
perhaps nearer wreck than it had ever been. All 
strong natures grow restless under such a pressure as 
was now weighing on Catherine. Shock and outburst 
become inevitable. 

So she sat alone this hot afternoon, haunted by 
presentiments, by vague terror for herself and him; 
while the child tottered about her, cooing, shouting, 
kissing, and all impulsively, with a ceaseless energy, 
like her father. 

The outer door opened, and she heard Robert's step, 
[ 395 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

and apparently Mr. Flaxman 's also. There was a 
hurried subdued word or two in the hall, and the two 
entered the room where she was sitting. 

Robert came, pressing back the hair from his eyes 
with a gesture which with him was the invariable ac- 
companiment of mental trouble. Catherine sprang up. 

'Robert, you look so tired! and how late you are!' 
Then as she came nearer to him: 'And your coat- 
torn blood!' 

'There is nothing wrong with me, dear/ he said 
hastily, taking her hands 'nothing! But it has 
been an awful afternoon. Flaxman will tell you. I 
must go to this place, I suppose, though I hate the 
thought of it ! Flaxman, will you tell her all about it? ' 
And, loosing his hold, he went heavily out of the room 
and upstairs. 

'It has been an accident/ said Flaxman gently, 
coming forward, 'to one of the men of his class. May 
we sit down, Mrs. Elsmere? Your husband and I have 
gone through a good deal these last two hours/ 

He sat down with a long breath, evidently trying to 
regain his ordinary even manner. His clothes, too, 
were covered with dust, and his hand shook. Catherine 
stood before him in consternation, while a nurse came 
for the child. 

'We had just begun our committee at four o'clock/ 
he said at last, 'though only about half of the men had 
.arrived, when there was a great shouting and com- 
motion outside, and a man rushed in calling for Els- 
mere. We ran out, found a great crowd, a huge 
brewer's dray standing in the street, and a man run 
over. Your husband pushed his way in. I followed, 
[ 396 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

and, to my horror, I found him kneeling by Charles 
Richards!' 

'Charles Richards?' Catherine repeated vacantly. 

Flaxman looked up at her, as though puzzled ; then 
a flash of astonishment passed over his face. 

'Elsmere has never told you of Charles Richards, 
the little gasfitter, who has been his right hand for the 
past three months?' 

'No never,' she said slowly. 

Again he looked astonished ; then he went on sadly : 
'All this spring he has been your husband's shadow - 
I never saw such devotion. We found him lying in the 
middle of the road. He had only just left work, a man 
said who had been with him, and was running to the 
meeting. He slipped and fell, crossing the street, which 
was muddy from last night's rain. The dray swung 
round the corner the driver was drunk or careless 
and they went right over him. One foot was a sicken- 
ing sight. Your husband and I luckily knew how to 
lift him for the best. We sent off for doctors. His 
home was in the next street, as it happened nearer 
than any hospital; so we carried him there. The 
neighbours were round the door/ 

Then he stopped himself. 

'Shall I tell you the whole story?' he said kindly; 
'it has been a tragedy ! I won't give you details if you 
had rather not.' 

'Oh no!' she said hurriedly; 'no tell me/ 

And she forgot to feel any wonder that Flaxman, 
in his chivalry, should treat her 1 as though she were a 
girl with nerves. 

'Well, it was the surroundings that were so ghastly. 
[ 397 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

When we got to the house an old woman rushed at me 
- "His wife's in there, but ye '11 not find her in her 
senses; she's been at it from eight o'clock this morn- 
ing. We've took the children away." I didn't know 
what she meant exactly till we got into the little front 
room. There, such a spectacle ! A young woman on 
a chair by the fire sleeping heavily, dead drunk ; the 
breakfast-things on the table, the sun blazing in on 
the dust and the dirt, and on the woman's face. I 
wanted to carry him into the room on the other side 
he was unconscious ; but a doctor had come up with us, 
and made us put him down on a bed there was in the 
corner. Then we got some brandy and poured it down. 
The doctor examined him, looked at his foot, threw 
something over it. "Nothing to be done," he said - 
"internal injuries he can't live half an hour." The 
next minute the poor fellow opened his eyes. They 
had pulled away the bed from the wall. Your husband 
was on the farther side, kneeling. When he opened 
his eyes, clearly the first thing he saw was his wife. 
He half -sprang up Elsmere caught him and gave 
a horrible cry indescribably horrible. " At it again, 
at it again! My God!" Then he fell back fainting. 
They got the wife out of the room between them - 
a perfect log you could hear her heavy breathing 
from the kitchen opposite. We gave him more brandy 
and he came to again. He looked up in your husband's 
face. "She hasn't broke out for two months," he said, 
so piteously, "two months and now I'm done - 
I 'm done and she '11 just go straight to the Devil ! ' ' 
And it comes out, so the neighbours told us, that for 
two years or more he had been patiently trying to 
[ 398 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

reclaim this woman, without a word of complaint to 
anybody, though his life must have been a dog's life. 
And now, on his deathbed, what seemed to be break- 
ing his heart was, not that he was dying, but that his 
task was snatched from him ! ' 

Flaxman paused, and looked away out of window. 
He told his story with difficulty. 

'Your husband tried to comfort him promised 
that the wife and children should be his special care, 
that everything that could be done to save and pro- 
tect them should be done. And the poor little fellow 
looked up at him, with the tears running down his 
cheeks, and and blessed him. " I cared about 
nothing," he said, "when you came. You've been 
God to me I Ve seen Him in you." Then he 
asked us to say something. Your husband said verse 
after verse of the Psalms, of the Gospels, of St. Paul. 
His eyes grew filmy, but he seemed every now and 
then to struggle back to life, and as soon as he caught 
Elsmere's face his look lightened. Towards the last he 
said something we none of us caught; but your hus- 
band thought it was a line from Emily Bronte's 
"Hymn," which he said to them last Sunday in 
lecture/ 

He looked up at her interrogatively, but there was 
no response in her face. 

'I asked him about it/ the speaker went on, 'as we 
came home. He said Grey of St. Anselm's once quoted 
it to him, and he has had a love for it ever since/ 

'Did he die while you were there?' asked Catherine 
presently after a silence. Her voice was dull and quiet. 
He thought her a strange woman. 
[ 399 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'No,' said Flaxman, almost sharply; 'but by now it 
must be over. The last sign of consciousness was a 
murmur of his children's names. They brought them 
in, but his hands had to be guided to them. A few 
minutes after it seemed to me that he was really gone, 
though he still breathed. The doctor was certain there 
would be no more consciousness. We stayed nearly 
another hour. Then his brother came, and some other 
relations, and we left him. Oh, it is over now!' 

Hugh Flaxman sat looking out into the dingy bit 
of London garden. Penetrated with pity as he was, 
he felt the presence of Elsmere's pale, silent, un- 
sympathetic wife an oppression. How could she receive 
such a story in such a way? 

The door opened and Robert came in hurriedly. 

'Good-night, Catherine he has told you?' 

He stood by her, his hand on her shoulder, wistfully 
looking at her, the face full of signs of what he had 
gone through. 

'Yes, it was terrible!' she said, with an effort. 

His face fell. He kissed her on the forehead and 
went away. 

When he was gone, Flaxman suddenly got up and 
leant against the open French window, looking keenly 
down on his companion. A new idea had stirred in him. 

And presently, after more talk of the incident of the 
afternoon, and when he had recovered his usual man- 
ner, he slipped gradually into the subject of his own 

experiences in North R^ during the last six months. 

He assumed all through that she knew as much as 

there was to be known of Elsmere's work, and that she 

was as much interested as the normal wife is in her 

[ 400 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

husband's doings. His tact, his delicacy, never failed 
him for a moment. But he spoke of his own impres- 
sions, of matters within his personal knowledge. And 
since the Easter sermon he had been much on Els- 
mere's track; he had been filled with curiosity about 
him. 

Catherine sat a little way from him, her blue dress 
lying in long folds about her, her head bent, her long 
fingers crossed on her lap. Sometimes she gave him 
a startled look, sometimes she shaded her eyes, while 
her other hand played silently with her watch-chain. 
Flaxman, watching her closely, however little he 
might seem to do so, was struck by her austere and 
delicate beauty as he had never been before. 

She hardly spoke all through, but he felt that she 
listened without resistance, nay, at last that she 
listened with a kind of hunger. He went from story 
to story, from scene to scene, without any excitement, 
in his most ordinary manner, making his reserves now 
and then, expressing his own opinion when it occurred 
to him, and not always favourably. But gradually the 
whole picture emerged, began to live before them. At 
last he hurriedly looked at his watch. 

'What a time I have kept you! It has been a relief 
to talk to you.' 

'You have not had dinner!' she said, looking up 
at him with a sudden nervous bewilderment which 
touched him and subtly changed his impression of her. 

* No matter. I will get some at home. Good-night ! ' 

When he was gone she carried the child up to bed ; 
her supper was brought to her solitary in the dining- 
room; and afterwards in the drawing-room, where a 
[ 401 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

soft twilight was fading into a soft and starlit night, 
she mechanically brought out some work for Mary, and 
sat bending over it by the window. After about an 
hour she looked up straight before her, threw her 
work down, and slipped on to the floor, her head rest- 
ing on the chair. 

The shock, the storm, had come. There for hours 
lay Catherine Elsmere weeping her heart away, 
wrestling with herself, with memory, with God. It 
was the greatest moral upheaval she had ever known 
-greater even than that which had convulsed her 
life at Murewell. 



CHAPTER XLIII 

ROBERT, tired and sick at heart, felt himself in no 
mood this evening for a dinner-party in which con- 
versation would be treated more or less as a fine art. 
Liberal Catholicism had lost its charm ; his sympathetic 
interest in Montalembert, Lacordaire, Lamennais, 
had to be quickened, pumped up again as it were, by 
great efforts, which were constantly relaxed within 
him as he sped westwards by the recurrent memory 
of that miserable room, the group of men, the bleed- 
ing hand, the white dying face. 

In Madame de Netteville's drawing-room he found 
a small number of people assembled. M. de Querouelle, 
a middle-sized, round-headed old gentleman of a famil- 
iar French type ; Lady Aubrey, thinner, more lath-like 
than ever, clad in some sumptuous mingling of dark 
red and silver ; Lord Rupert, beaming under the recent 
introduction of a Land Purchase Bill for Ireland, by 
which he saw his way at last to wash his hands of 'a 
beastly set of tenants'; Mr. Wharncliffe, a young 
private secretary with a waxed moustache, six feet of 
height, and a general air of superlativeness which de- 
manded and secured attention; a famous journalist, 
whose smiling self -repressive look assured you that he 
carried with him the secrets of several empires; and 
one Sir John Headlam, a little black-haired Jewish- 
looking man with a limp an ex-Colonial Governor, 
who had made himself accepted in London as an amus- 
[ 403 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ing fellow, but who was at least as much disliked 
by one half of society as he was popular with the 
other. 

'Purely for talk, you see, not for show!' said Ma- 
dame de Netteville to Robert, with a little smiling nod 
round her circle as they stood waiting for the com- 
mencement of dinner. 

'I shall hardly do my part/ he said, with a little 
sigh. 'I have just come from a very different scene/ 

She looked at him with inquiring eyes. 

'A terrible accident in the East End/ he said briefly. 
'We won't talk of it. I only mention it to propitiate 
you beforehand. Those things are not forgotten at 
once/ 

She said no more, but seeing that he was indeed out 
of heart, physically and mentally, she showed the 
most subtle consideration for him at dinner. M. de 
Querouelle was made to talk. His hostess wound him 
up and set him going, tune after tune. He played 
them all, and, by dint of long practice, to perfection, in 
the French way. A visit of his youth to the island 
grave of Chateaubriand ; his early memories, as a poet- 
ical aspirant, of the magnificent flatteries by which 
Victor Hugo made himself the god of young romantic 
Paris; his talks with Montalembert in the days of 
UAvenir; his memories of Lamennais's sombre figure, 
of Maurice de Guerin's feverish ethereal charm; his 
account of the opposition salons under the Empire 
they had all been elaborated in the course of years, till 
every word fitted and each point led to the next with 
the 'inevitableness' of true art. Robert, at first silent 
and distrait, found it impossible after a while not to 
[ 404 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

listen with interest. He admired the skill, too, of 
Madame de Netteville's second in the duet, the finish, 
the alternate sparkle and melancholy of it ; and at last 
he too was drawn in, and found himself listened to 
with great benevolence by the Frenchman, who had 
been informed about him, and regarded him indulg- 
ently, as one more curious specimen of English relig- 
ious provincialisms. The journalist, Mr. Addlestone, 
who had won a European reputation for wisdom by 
a great scantiness of speech in society, coupled with 
the look of Minerva's owl, attached himself to them ; 
while Lady Aubrey, Sir John Headlam, Lord Rupert, 
and Mr. Wharncliffe made a noisier and more dashing 
party at the other end. 

'Are you still in your old quarters, Lady Aubrey?' 
asked Sir John Headlam, turning his old roguish face 
upon her. 'That house of Nell G Wynne's, was n't it, 
in Meade Street?' 

'Oh dear, no! We could only get it up to May this 
year, and then they made us turn out for the season, 
for the first time for ten years. There is a tiresome 
young heir who has married a wife and wants to live 
in it. I could have left a train of gunpowder and a slow 
match behind, I was so cross ! ' 

'Ah "Reculer pour mieux faire sauter!" ' said 
Sir John, mincing out his mot as though he loved 
it. 

'Not bad, Sir John/ she said, looking at him 
calmly, 'but you have way to make up. You were so 
dull the last time you took me in to dinner, that pos- 
itively 

'You began to wonder to what I owed my para- 
[ 405 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

graph in the Societb de Londres,' he rejoined, smiling, 
though a close observer might have seen an angry 
flash in his little eyes. 'My dear Lady Aubrey, it was 
simply because I had not seen you for six weeks. My 
education had been neglected. I get my art and my 
literature from you. The last time but one we met, 
you gave me the cream of three new French novels 
and all the dramatic scandal of the period. I have 
lived on it for weeks. By the way, have you read the 
"Princesse de - -"?' ' 

He looked at her audaciously. The book had af- 
fronted even Paris. 

'I have n't/ she said, adjusting her bracelets, while 
she flashed a rapier-glance at him, 'but if I had, I 
should say precisely the same. Lord Rupert, will you 
kindly keep Sir John in order?' 

Lord Rupert plunged in with the gallant flounder- 
ing motion characteristic of him, while Mr. Wharn- 
cliffe followed like a modern gunboat behind a three- 
decker. As to that young man, the casual spectator, 
to borrow a famous Cambridge saying, invariably 
assumed that all 'the time he could spare from 
neglecting his duties he must spend in adorning his 
person/ Not at all! The tenue of a dandy was never 
more cleverly used to mask the schemes of a Disraeli 
or the hard ambition of a Talleyrand than in Master 
Frederick Wharncliffe, who was in reality going up the 
ladder hand over hand, and meant very soon to be on 
the top rungs. 

It was a curious party, typical of the house, and of 
a certain stratum of London. When, every now and 
then, in the pauses of their own conversation, Elsmere 
[ 406 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

caught something of the chatter going on at the other 
end of the table, or when the party became fused into 
one for a while under the genial influence of a good 
story or the exhilaration of a personal skirmish, the 
whole scene the dainty oval room, the lights, the 
servants, the exquisite fruit and flowers, the gleaming 
silver, the tapestried walls would seem to him for 
an instant like a mirage, a dream, yet with something 
glittering and arid about it which a dream never 
has. 

The hard self-confidence of these people did it 
belong to the same world as that humbling, that 
heavenly self-abandonment which had shone on him 
that afternoon from Charles Richards's begrimed and 
blood-stained face? 'Blessed are the poor in spirit,' 
he said to himself once with an inward groan. 'Why 
am I here? Why am I not at home with Catherine?' 

But Madame de Netteville was pleasant to him. He 
had never seen her so womanly, never felt more grate- 
ful for her delicate social skill. As she talked to him, 
or to the Frenchman, of literature, or politics, or famous 
folk, flashing her beautiful eyes from one to the other, 
Sir John Headlam would, every now and then, turn 
his odd puckered face observantly towards the farther 
end of the table. 

Upstairs smoking began, Lady Aubrey and Madame 
de Netteville joining in. M. de Querouelle, having 
talked the best of his repertoire at dinner, was now 
inclined for amusement, and had discovered that Lady 
Aubrey could amuse him, and was, moreover, une 
belle personne. Madame de Netteville was obliged to 
give some time to Lord Rupert. The other men stood 
[ 407 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

chatting politics and the latest news, till Robert, con- 
scious of a complete failure of social energy, began to 
look at his watch. Instantly Madame de Netteville 
glided up to him. 

'Mr. Elsmere, you have talked no business to me, 
and I must know how my affairs in Elgood Street are 
getting on. Come into my little writing-room/ And 
she led him into a tiny panelled room at the far end of 
the drawing-room and shut off from it by a heavy 
curtain, which she now left half -drawn. 

'The latest?' said Fred Wharncliffe to Lady Aubrey, 
raising his eyebrows with the slightest motion of the 
head towards the writing-room. 

'I suppose so/ she said indifferently; 'she is East- 
Ending for a change. We all do it nowadays. It is 
like Dizzy's young man who "liked bad wine, he was 
so bored with good." 

Meanwhile, Madame de Netteville was leaning 
against the open window of the fantastic little room, 
with Robert beside her. 

'You look as if you had had a strain, 'she said to him 
abruptly, after they had talked business for a few 
minutes. 'What has been the matter?' 

He told her Richards 's story, very shortly. It 
would have been impossible to him to give more than 
the driest outline of it in that room. His companion 
listened gravely. She was an epicure in all things, 
especially in moral sensation, and she liked his mo- 
ments of reserve and strong self-control. They made 
his general expansiveness more distinguished. 

Presently there was a pause, which she broke by 
saying, - 

[ 408 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

'I was at your lecture last Sunday you didn't 
see me ! ' 

'Were you? Ah ! I remember a person in black, and 
veiled, who puzzled me. I don't think we want you 
there, Madame de Netteville.' 

His look was pleasant, but his tone had some de- 
cision in it. 

'Why not? Is it only the artisans who have souls? 
A reformer should refuse no one.' 

'You have your own opportunities,' he said quietly; 
'I think the men prefer to have it to themselves 
for the present. Some of them are dreadfully in 
earnest.' 

'Oh, I don't pretend to be in earnest,' she said, with 
a little wave of her hand; 'or, at any rate, I know 
better than to talk of earnestness to you.' 

'Why to me?' he asked, smiling. 

'Oh, because you and your like have your fixed 
ideas of the upper class and the lower. One social 
type fills up your horizon. You are not interested in 
any other, and, indeed, you know nothing of any 
other.' 

She looked at him defiantly. Everything about her 
to-night was splendid and regal her dress of black 
and white brocade, the diamonds at her throat, the 
carriage of her head, nay, the marks of experience and 
living on the dark subtle face. 

'Perhaps not,' he replied; 'it is enough for one life 
to try and make out where the English working class 
is tending to.' 

' You are quite wrong, utterly wrong. The man who 
keeps his eye only on the lower class will achieve 
[ 409 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

nothing. What can the idealist do without the men 
of action the men who can take his beliefs and 
make them enter by violence into existing institutions? 
And the men of action are to be found with us. 1 

1 It hardly looks just now as if the upper class was 
to go on enjoying a monopoly of them/ he said, 
smiling. 

'Then appearances are deceptive. The populace 
supplies mass and weight nothing else. What you 
want is to touch the leaders, the men and women 
whose voices carry, and then your populace would 
follow hard enough. For instance/ and she dropped 
her aggressive tone and spoke with a smiling kindness, 
- 'come down next Saturday to my little Surrey 
cottage; you shall see some of these men and women 
there, and I will make you confess when you go away 
that you have profited your workmen more by desert- 
ing them than by staying with them. Will you 
come?' 

'My Sundays are too precious to me just now, 
Madame de Netteville. Besides, my firm conviction 
is that the upper class can produce a Brook Farm, 
but nothing more. The religious movement of the 
future will want a vast effusion of feeling and pas- 
sion to carry it into action, and feeling and passion 
are only to be generated in sufficient volume among 
the masses, where the vested interests of all kinds 
are less tremendous. You upper-class folk have your 
part, of course. Woe betide you if you shirk it - 
but' 

' Oh, let us leave it alone/ she said with a little shrug. 
' I know you would give us all the work and refuse us 
[ 410 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

all the profits. We are to starve for your workman, to 
give him our hearts and purses and everything we 
have, not that w r e may hoodwink him which might 
be worth doing but that he may rule us. It is too 
much ! ' 

'Very well/ he said drily, his colour rising. 'Very 
well, let it be too much/ 

And, dropping his lounging attitude, he stood erect, 
and she saw that he meant to be going. Her look 
swept over him from head to foot over the worn 
face with its look of sensitive refinement and spiritual 
force, the active frame, the delicate but most charac- 
teristic hand. Never had any man so attracted her 
for years ; never had she found it so difficult to gain a 
hold. Eugenie de Netteville, poseuse, schemer, woman 
of the world that she was, was losing command of 
herself. 

'What did you really mean by "worldliness" and 
the " world " in your lecture last Sunday?' she asked 
him suddenly, with a little accent of scorn. ' I thought 
your diatribes absurd. What you religious people call 
the " world " is really only the average opinion of 
sensible people which neither you nor your kind could 
do without for a day/ 

He smiled, half-amused by her provocative tone, 
and defended himself not very seriously. But she 
threw all her strength into the argument, and he for- 
got that he had meant to go at once. When she chose 
she could talk admirably, and she chose now. She had 
the most aggressive ways of attacking, and then, in 
the same breath, the most subtle and softening ways 
of yielding and, as it were, of asking pardon. Directly 
[ 411 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

her antagonist turned upon her he found himself dis- 
armed he knew not how. The disputant disappeared, 
and he felt the woman, restless, melancholy, sym- 
pathetic, hungry for friendship and esteem, yet too 
proud to make any direct bid for either. It was im- 
possible not to be interested and touched. 

Such at least was the woman whom Robert Elsmere 
felt. Whether in his hours of intimacy with her, 
twelve months before, young Alfred Evershed had 
received the same impression may be doubted. In all 
things Eugenie de Netteville was an artist. 

Suddenly the curtain dividing them from the larger 
drawing-room was drawn back, and Sir John Head- 
lam stood in the doorway. He had the glittering 
amused eyes of a malicious child as he looked at 
them. 

'Very sorry, madame/ he began in his high cracked 
voice, 'but Wharncliffe and I are off to the New Club 
to see Desforets. They have got her there to- 
night/ 

'Go/ she said, waving her hand to him, 'I don't 
envy you. She is not what she was/ 

'No, there is only one person/ he said, bowing with 
grotesque little airs of gallantry, 'for whom time stands 
still/ 

Madame de Netteville looked at him with smiling 
half-contemptuous serenity. He bowed again, this 
time with ironical emphasis, and disappeared. 

'Perhaps I had better go back and send them off/ 
she said, rising. 'But you and I have not had our 
talk out yet/ 

She led the way into the drawing-room. Lady 
[ 412 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

Aubrey was lying back on the velvet sofa, a little green 
paroquet that was accustomed to wander tamely about 
the room perching on her hand. She was holding the 
field against Lord Rupert and Mr. Addlestone in a 
three-cornered duel of wits, while M. de Querouelle sat 
by, his plump hands on his knees, applauding. 

They all rose as their hostess came in. 

'My dear/ said Lady Aubrey, 'it is disgracefully 
early, but my country before pleasure. It is the 
Foreign Office to-night, and since James took office 
I can't with decency absent myself. I had rather be 
a scullerymaid than a minister's wife. Lord Rupert, 
I will take you on if you want a lift/ 

She touched Madame de Netteville's cheek with her 
lips, nodding to the other men present, and went out, 
her fair stag-like head well in the air, 'chaffing' Lord 
Rupert, who obediently followed her, performing 
marvellous feats of agility in his desire to keep out of 
the way of the superb train sweeping behind her. It 
always seemed as if Lady Aubrey could have had no 
childhood, as if she must always have had just that 
voice and those eyes. Tears she could never have shed, 
not even as a baby over a broken toy. Besides, at no 
period of her life could she have looked upon a lost 
possession as anything else than the opportunity for 
a new one. 

The other men took their departure for one reason 
or another. It was not late, but London was in full 
swing, and M. de Querouelle talked with affected bore- 
dom of four houses at which he must still 'look in.' 

As she dismissed Mr. Wharncliffe, Robert too held 
out his hand. 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'No/ she said, with a quick impetuousness, 'no: 
I want my talk out. It is barely half -past ten, and 
neither of us wants to be racing about London to- 
night. 

Elsmere had always a certain lack of social decision, 
and he lingered rather reluctantly for another ten 
minutes, as he supposed. 

She threw herself into a low chair. The windows 
were open to the back of the house, and the roar of 
Piccadilly and Sloane Street came borne in upon the 
warm night air. Her superb dark head stood out 
against a stand of yellow lilies close behind her, and 
the little paroquet, bright with all the colours of the 
tropics, perched now on her knee, now on the back 
of her chair, touched every now and then by quick 
unsteady fingers. 

Then an incident followed which Elsmere remem- 
bered to his dying day with shame and humiliation. 

In ten minutes from the time of their being left 
alone, a woman who was five years his senior had made 
him what was practically a confession of love had 
given him to understand that she knew what were 
the relations between himself and his wife and had 
implored him with the quick breath of an indescrib- 
able excitement to see what a woman's sympathy and 
a woman's unique devotion could do for the causes he 
had at heart. 

The truth broke upon Elsmere very slowly, awaken- 
ing in him, when at last it was unmistakeable, a swift 
agony of repulsion, which his most friendly biographer 
can only regard with a kind of grim satisfaction. For 
after all there is an amount of innocence and absent- 
[ 414 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

mindedness in matters of daily human life, which is 
not only niaiserie, but comes very near to moral wrong. 
In this crowded world a man has no business to walk 
about with his eyes always on the stars. His stumbles 
may have too many consequences. A harsh but a 
salutary truth ! If Elsmere needed it, it was bitterly 
taught him during a terrible half -hour. When the half- 
coherent enigmatical sentences, to which he listened 
at first with a perplexed surprise, began gradually to 
define themselves; when he found a woman roused 
and tragically beautiful between him and escape ; when 
no determination on his part not to understand; 
when nothing he could say availed to protect her from 
herself; when they were at last face to face with a 
confession and an appeal which were a disgrace to 
both then at last Elsmere paid 'in one minute glad 
life's arrears/ --the natural penalty of an optimism, 
a boundless faith in human nature, with which life, 
as we know it, is inconsistent. 

How he met the softness, the grace, the seduction 
of a woman who was an expert in all the arts of fas- 
cination he never knew. In memory afterwards it was 
all a ghastly mirage to him. The low voice, the splen- 
did dress, the scented room came back to him, and a 
confused memory of his own futile struggle to ward 
off what she was bent on saying little else. He had 
been maladroit, he thought, had lost his presence of 
mind. Any man of the world of his acquaintance, he 
believed, trampling on himself, would have done 
better. 

But when the softness and the grace were all lost 
in smart and humiliation, when the Madame de Nette- 
[ 415 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ville of ordinary life disappeared, and something took 
her place which was like a coarse and malignant under- 
self suddenly brought into the light of day from 
that point onwards, in after days, he remembered it 
all. 

'. . . I know/ cried Eugenie de Netteville at last, 
standing at bay before him, her hands locked before 
her, her white lips quivering, when her cup of shame 
was full, and her one impulse left was to strike the 
man who had humiliated her ' I know that you and 
your puritanical wife are miserable miserable. What 
is the use of denying facts that all the world can see, 
that you have taken pains/ and she laid a fierce delib- 
erate emphasis on each word, 'all the world shall see? 
There let your wife's ignorance and bigotry, and 
your own obvious relation to her, be my excuse, if I 
wanted any; but/ and she shrugged her white shoul- 
ders passionately, ' I want none! I am not responsible 
to your petty codes. Nature and feelings are enough 
for me. I saw you wanting sympathy and affec- 
tion' 

*My wife!' cried Robert, hearing nothing but that 
one word. And then, his glance sweeping over the 
woiman before him, he made a stern step forward. 

''Let me go, Madame de Netteville, let me go, or I 
shall forget that you are a woman and I a man, and 
that in some way I cannot understand my own blind- 
ness and folly - 

'Must have led to this most undesirable scene/ 

she said, with mocking suddenness, throwing herself, 

however, effectually in his way. Then a change 

came over her, and erect, ghastly white, with frown- 

[ 416 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

ing brow and shaking limbs, a baffled and smarting 
woman, from whom every restraint had fallen away, 
let loose upon him a torrent of gall and bitterness 
which he could not have cut short without actual 
violence. 

He stood proudly enduring it, waiting for the mo- 
ment when what seemed to him an outbreak of mania 
should have spent itself. But suddenly he caught 
Catherine's name coupled with some contemptuous 
epithet or other, and his self-control failed him. With 
flashing eyes he went close up to her and took one 
hand in a grip of iron. 

'You shall not/ he said, beside himself, 'you shall 
not ! What have I done what has she done that 
you should allow yourself such words? My poor wife ! ' 

A passionate flood of self-reproachful love was on 
his lips. He choked it back. It was desecration that 
Catherine's name should be mentioned in that room. 
He dropped the hand he held. His resolute gesture 
bade the woman before him give way and let him go. 

Madame de Netteville looked at him wildly for a 
moment, at the stern manliness of the face which 
seemed in this half -hour to have grown older, at 
the attitude with its mingled dignity and appeal. 
Then, still holding him, as it were, with menacing 
defiant eyes, she moved aside, she waved her hand 
with a contemptuous gesture of dismissal. He bowed, 
passed her, and the door shut. 

For nearly an hour afterwards Elsmere wandered 
blindly and aimlessly through the darkness and silence 
of the park. 

t 417 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

The sensitive optimist nature was all unhinged, felt 
itself wrestling in the grip of dark implacable things, 
upheld by a single thread above that moral abyss 
which yawns beneath us all, into which the individual 
life sinks so easily to ruin and nothingness. At 
such moments a man realises within himself, within 
the circle of consciousness, the germs of all things 
hideous and vile. 'Save for the grace of God/ he says 
to himself, shuddering, 'save only for the grace of 
God ' 

Contempt for himself, loathing for life and its pos- 
sibilities, as he had just beheld them; moral tumult, 
pity, remorse, a stinging self-reproach all these 
things wrestled within him. What, preach to others, 
and stumble himself into such mire as this? Talk 
loudly of love and faith, and make it possible all the 
time that a fellow human creature should think you 
capable at a pinch of the worst treason against 
both? 

Elsmere dived to the very depths of his own soul 
that night. Was it all the natural consequence of a 
loosened bond, of a wretched relaxation of effort - 
a wretched acquiescence in something second best? 
Had love been cooling? Had it simply ceased to 
take the trouble love must take to maintain itself? 
And had this horror been the subtle inevitable 
Nemesis? 

All at once, under the trees of the park, Elsmere 
stopped for a moment in the darkness, and bared his 
head, with the passionate reverential action of a dev- 
otee before his saint. The lurid image which had been 
pursuing him gave way, and in its place came the 



NEW OPENINGS 

image of a new-made mother, her child close within 
her sheltering arm. Ah ! it was all plain to him now. 
The moral tempest had done its work. 

One task of all tasks had been set him from the 
beginning to keep his wife's love ! If she had slipped 
away from him, to the injury and moral lessening of 
both, on his cowardice, on his clumsiness, be the 
blame! Above all, on his fatal power of absorbing 
himself in a hundred outside interests, controversy, 
literature, society. Even his work seemed to have lost 
half its sacredness. If there be a canker at the root, 
no matter how large the show of leaf and blossom over- 
head, there is but the more to wither ! Of what worth 
is any success but that which is grounded deep on the 
rock of personal love and duty? 

Oh ! let him go back to her ! wrestle with her, open 
his heart again, try new ways, make new concessions. 
How faint the sense of her trial has been growing 
within him of late! hers which had once been more 
terrible to him than his own! He feels the special 
temptations of his own nature; he throws himself, 
humbled, convicted, at her feet. The woman, the 
scene he has left, is effaced, blotted out by the natural 
intense reaction of remorseful love. 

So he sped homewards at last through the noise of 
Oxford Street, seeing, hearing nothing. He opened 
his own door, and let himself into the dim, silent 
house. How the moment recalled to him that other 
supreme moment of his life at Murewell! No light in 
the drawing-room. He went upstairs and softly turned 
the handle of her room. 

[ 419 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Inside the room seemed to him nearly dark. But 
the window was wide open. The free loosely-growing 
branches of the plane-trees made a dark, delicate net- 
work against the luminous blue of the night. A cool 
air came to him laden with an almost rural scent of 
earth and leaves. By the window sat a white motion- 
less figure. As he closed the door it rose and walked 
towards him without a word. Instinctively Robert 
felt that something unknown to him had been passing 
here. He paused breathless, expectant. 

She came to him. She linked her cold trembling 
fingers round his neck. 

'Robert, I have been waiting so long it was so 
late! I thought' and she choked down a sob- 
' perhaps something has happened to him, we are 
separated for ever, and I shall never be able to 
tell him. Robert, Mr. Flaxman talked to me; he 
opened my eyes ; I have been so cruel to you, so hard ! 
I have broken my vow. I don't deserve it; but- 
Robert! ' 

She had spoken with extraordinary self-command 
till the last word, which fell into a smothered cry for 
pardon. Catherine Elsmere had very little of the soft 
clingingness which makes the charm of a certain type 
of woman. Each phrase she had spoken had seemed 
to take with it a piece of her life. She trembled and 
tottered in her husband's arms. 

He bent over her with half-articulate words of 
amazement, of passion. He led her to her chair, and, 
kneeling before her, he tried, so far as the emotion of 
both would let him, to make her realise what was in 
his own heart, the penitence and longing which had 
[ 420 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

winged his return to her. Without a mention of Ma- 
dame de Netteville's name, indeed ! That horror she 
should never know. But it was to it, as he held his 
wife, he owed his poignant sense of something half- 
jeopardised and wholly recovered; it was that con- 
sciousness in the background of his mind, ignorant of 
it as Catherine was then and always, which gave the 
peculiar epoch-making force to this sacred and critical 
hour of their lives. But she would hear nothing of 
his self -blame nothing. She put her hand across 
his lips. 

'I have seen things as they are, Robert/ she said, 
very simply; 'while I have been sitting here, and 
downstairs, after Mr. Flaxman left me. You were 
right I would not understand. And, in a sense, I 
shall never understand. I cannot change,' and her 
voice broke into piteousness. 'My Lord is my Lord 
always ; but He is yours too. Oh, I know it, say what 
you will ! That is what has been hidden from me ; that 
is what my trouble has taught me ; the powerlessness, 
the worthlessness, of words. It is the spirit that quick- 
eneth. I should never have felt it so but for this fiery 
furnace of pain. But I have been wandering in strange 
places, through strange thoughts. God has not one 
language, but many. I have dared to think He had 
but one, the one I knew. I have dared ' - - and she 
faltered 'to condemn your faith as no faith. Oh! 
I lay there so long in the dark downstairs, seeing you 
by that bed ; I heard your voice, I crept to your side. 
Jesus was there, too. Ah, He was He was ! Leave 
me that comfort! What are you saying? Wrong 
you? Unkind? Your wife knows nothing of it. Oh, 
[ 421 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

did you think when you came in just now before 
dinner that I did n't care, that I had a heart of 
stone? Did you think I had broken my solemn pro- 
mise, my vow to you that day at Murewell? So I have, 
a hundred times over. I made it in ignorance ; I had 
not counted the cost how could I ? It was all so 
new, so strange. I dare not make it again, the will is 
so weak, circumstances so strong. But oh! take me 
back into your life! Hold me there! Remind me 
always of this night ; convict me out of my own mouth ! 
But I will learn my lesson; I will learn to hear the 
two voices, the voice that speaks to you and the voice 
that speaks to me I must. It is all plain to me now. 
It has been appointed me/ 

Then she broke down into a kind of weariness, and 
fell back in her chair, her delicate fingers straying 
with soft childish touch over his hair. 

'But I am past thinking. Let us bury it all, and 
begin again. Words are nothing/ 

Strange ending to a day of torture ! As she towered 
above him in the dimness, white and pure and droop- 
ing, her force of nature all dissolved, lost in this new 
heavenly weakness of love, he thought of the man 
who passed through the place of sin, and the place of 
expiation, and saw at last the rosy light creeping along 
the East, caught the white moving figures, and that 
sweet distant melody rising through the luminous air, 
which announced to him the approach of Beatrice and 
the nearness of those 'shining tablelands whereof our 
God Himself is moon and sun/ For eternal life, the 
ideal state, is not something future and distant. Dante 
knew it when he talked of 'quella que imparadisa la 



NEW OPENINGS 

mia mente.' Paradise is here, visible and tangible by 
mortal eyes and hands, whenever self is lost in loving, 
whenever the narrow limits of personality are beaten 
down by the inrush of the Divine Spirit. 



CHAPTER XLIV 

1 HE saddest moment in the lives of these two persons 
whose history we have followed for so long was over 
and done with. Henceforward to the end Elsmere and 
his wife were lovers as of old. 

But that day and night left even deeper marks on 
Robert than on Catherine. Afterwards she gradually 
came to feel, running all through his views of life, a 
note sterner, deeper, maturer than any present there 
before. The reasons for it were unknown to her, 
though sometimes her own tender, ignorant remorse 
supplied them. But they were hidden deep in Els- 
mere's memory. 

A few days afterwards he was casually told that 
Madame de Netteville had left England for some time. 
As a matter of fact he never set eyes on her again. 
After a while the extravagance of his self-blame 
abated. He saw things as they were without mor- 
bidness. But a certain boyish carelessness of mood he 
never afterwards quite recovered. Men and women of 
all classes, and not only among the poor, became more 
real and more tragic moral truths more awful to 
him. It was the penalty of a highly-strung nature 
set with exclusive intensity towards certain spiritual 
ends. 

On the first opportunity after that conversation 
with Hugh Flaxman which had so deeply affected her, 
Catherine accompanied Elsmere to his Sunday lecture. 
[ 424 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

He tried a little, tenderly, to dissuade her. But she 
went, shrinking and yet determined. 

She had not heard him speak in public since that 
last sermon of his in Murewell Church, every detail 
of which by long brooding had been burnt into her 
mind. The bare Elgood Street room, the dingy out- 
look on the high walls of a warehouse opposite, the 
lines of blanched quick-eyed artisans, the dissent from 
what she loved, and he had once loved, implied in 
everything, the lecture itself, on the narratives of the 
Passion ; it was all exquisitely painful to her, and, yet, 
yet she was glad to be there. 

Afterwards Wardlaw, with the brusque remark to 
Elsmere that 'any fool could see he was getting done 
up/ insisted on taking the children's class. Catherine, 
too, had been impressed, as she saw Robert raised a 
little above her in the glare of many windows, with 
the sudden perception that the worn, exhausted look 
of the preceding summer had returned upon him. She 
held out her hand to Wardlaw with a quick, warm 
word of thanks. He glanced at her curiously. What 
had brought her there after all? 

Then Robert, protesting that he was being ridicul- 
ously coddled, and that Wardlaw was much more in 
want of a holiday than he, was carried off to the Em- 
bankment, and the two spent a happy hour wandering 
westward, Somerset House, the bridges, the West- 
minster towers rising before them into the haze of 
the June afternoon. A little fresh breeze came off the 
river; that, or his wife's hand on his arm, seemed to 
put new life into Elsmere. And she walked beside 
him, talking frankly, heart to heart, with flashes of 
[ 425 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

her old sweet gaiety, as she had not talked for 
months. 

Deep in her mystical sense all the time lay the belief 
in a final restoration, in an all-atoning moment, per- 
haps at the very end of life, in which the blind would 
see, the doubter be convinced. And, meanwhile, the 
blessedness of this peace, this surrender! Surely the 
air this afternoon was pure and life-giving for them, 
the bells rang for them, the trees were green for them ! 

He had need in the week that followed of all that 
she had given back to him. For Mr. Grey's illness had 
taken a dangerous and alarming turn. It seemed to 
be the issue of long ill-health, and the doctors feared 
that there were no resources of constitution left to 
carry him through it. Every day some old St. Anselm's 
friend on the spot wrote to Elsmere, and with each 
post the news grew more despairing. Since Elsmere 
had left Oxford he could count on the fingers of one 
hand the occasions on which he and Grey had met 
face to face. But for him, as for many another man 
of our time, Henry Grey's influence was not primarily 
an influence of personal contact. His mere life, that 
he was there, on English soil, within a measureable 
distance, had been to Elsmere in his darkest moments 
one of his thoughts of refuge. At a time when a re- 
ligion which can no longer be believed clashes with a 
scepticism full of danger to conduct, every such witness 
as Grey to the power of a new and coming truth holds 
a special place in the hearts of men who can neither 
accept fairy-tales, nor reconcile themselves to a world 
without faith. The saintly life grows to be a beacon, 
[ 426 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

a witness. Men cling to it as they have always clung 
to each other, to the visible and the tangible; as the 
elders of Miletus, though the Way lay before them, 
clung to the man who had set their feet therein, 
'sorrowing most of all that they should see his face 
no more/ 

The accounts grew worse all friends shut out, no 
possibility of last words the whole of Oxford moved 
and sorrowing. Then at last, on a Friday, came the 
dreaded expected letter: 'He is gone! He died early 
this morning, without pain, conscious almost to the 
end. He mentioned several friends by name, you 
among them, during the night. x The funeral is to be 
on Tuesday. You will be here, of course/ 

Sad and memorable day! By an untoward chance 
it fell in Commemoration Week, and Robert found 
the familiar streets teeming with life and noise, under 
a showery uncertain sky, which every now and then 
would send the bevies of lightly-gowned maidens, with 
their mothers and attendant squires, skurrying for 
shelter, and leave the roofs and pavements glistening. 
He walked up to St. Anselm's found, as he expected, 
that the first part of the service was to be in the 
chapel, the rest in the cemetery, and then mounted 
the well-known staircase to Langham's rooms. Lang- 
ham was apparently in his bedroom. Lunch was on 
the table the familiar commons, the familiar toast- 
and-water. There, in a recess, were the same splendid 
wall maps of Greece he had so often consulted after 
lecture. There was the little case of coins, with the 
gold Alexanders he had handled with so much covetous 
reverence at eighteen. Outside, the irregular quad- 
[ 427 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

rangle with its dripping trees stretched before him; 
the steps of the new Hall, now the shower was over, 
were crowded with gowned figures. It might have 
been yesterday that he had stood in that room, blush- 
ing with awkward pleasure under Mr. Grey's first 
salutation. 

The bedroom door opened and Langham came in. 

'Elsmere! But of course I expected you/ 

His voice seemed to Robert curiously changed. 
There was a flatness in it, an absence of positive 
cordiality which was new to him in any greeting of 
Langham 's to himself, and had a chilling effect upon 
him. The face, too, was changed. Tint and expression 
were both dulled ; its marble-like sharpness and finish 
had coarsened a little, and the figure, which had 
never possessed the erectness of youth, had now the 
pinched look and the confirmed stoop of the vale- 
tudinarian. 

'I did not write to you, Elsmere/ he said immedi- 
ately, as though in anticipation of what the other 
would be sure to say; 'I knew nothing but what the 
bulletins said, and I was told that Cathcart wrote 
to you. It is many years now since I have seen much 
of Grey. Sit down and have some lunch. We have 
time, but not too much time/ 

Robert took a few mouthfuls. Langham was diffi- 
cult, talked disconnectedly of trifles, and Robert was 
soon painfully conscious that the old sympathetic 
bond between them no longer existed. Presently, 
Langham, as though with an effort to remember, asked 
after Catherine, then inquired what he was doing in 
the way of writing, and neither of them mentioned the 
[ 428 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

name of Leyburn. They left the table and sat spas- 
modically talking, in reality expectant. And at last 
the sound present already in both minds made itself 
heard the first long solitary stroke of the chapel 
bell. 

Robert covered his eyes. 

'Do you remember in this room, Langham, you 
introduced us first?' 

'I remember/ replied the other abruptly. Then, 
with a half-cynical, half-melancholy scrutiny of his 
companion, he said, after a pause, 'What a faculty 
of hero-worship you have always had, Elsmere ! ' 

'Do you know anything of the end?' Robert asked 
him presently, as that tolling bell seemed to bring the 
strong feeling beneath more irresistibly to the surface. 

'No, I never asked!' cried Langham, with sudden 
harsh animation. 'What purpose could be served? 
Death should be avoided by the living. We have no 
business with it. Do what we will, we cannot rehearse 
our own parts. And the sight of other men's perform- 
ances helps us no more than the sight of a great 
actor gives the dramatic gift. All they do for us is to 
imperil the little nerve, break through the little calm, 
we have left.' 

Elsmere's hand dropped, and he turned round to 
him with a flashing smile. 

'Ah I know it now you loved him still.' 

Langham, who was standing, looked down on him 
sombrely, yet more indulgently. 

'How much you always made of feeling/ he said 
after a little pause, 'in a world where, according to 
me, our chief object should be not to feel ! ' 
[ 429 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Then he began to hunt for his cap and gown. In 
another minute the two made part of the crowd in 
the front quadrangle, where the rain was sprinkling, 
and the insistent grief-laden voice of the bell rolled, 
from pause to pause, above the gowned figures, spread- 
ing thence in wide waves of mourning sound over 
Oxford. 

The chapel service passed over Robert like a 
solemn pathetic dream. The lines of undergraduate 
faces, the Provost's white head, the voice of the 
chaplain reading, the full male unison of the voices 
replying how they carried him back to the day 
when as a lad from school he had sat on one of the 
chancel benches beside his mother, listening for the 
first time to the subtle simplicity, if one may be 
allowed the paradox, of the Provost's preaching ! Just 
opposite to where he sat now with Langham, Grey 
had sat that first afternoon; the freshman's curious 
eyes had been drawn again and again to the dark 
massive head, the face with its look of reposeful force, 
of righteous strength. During the lesson from Co- 
rinthians, Elsmere's thoughts were irrelevantly busy 
with all sorts of mundane memories of the dead. What 
was especially present to him was a series of Liberal 
election meetings in which Grey had taken a warm 
part, and in which he himself had helped just before 
he took Orders. A hundred odd, incongruous details 
came back to Robert now with poignant force. Grey 
had been to him at one time primarily the professor, 
the philosopher, the representative of all that was best 
in the life of the University ; now, fresh from his own 
grapple with London and its life, what moved him 
F 430 1 



NEW OPENINGS 

most was the memory of the citizen, the friend and 
brother of common man, the thinker who had never 
shirked action in the name of thought, for whom 
conduct had been from beginning to end the first 
reality. 

The procession through the streets afterwards, 
which conveyed the body of this great son of modern 
Oxford to its last resting-place in the citizens' cemetery 
on the western side of the town, will not soon be for- 
gotten, even in a place which forgets notoriously 
soon. All the University was there, all the town was 
there. Side by side with men honourably dear to 
England, who had carried with them into one or other 
of the great English careers the memory of the teacher, 
were men who had known from day to day the cheery 
modest helper in a hundred local causes ; side by side 
with the youth of Alma Mater went the poor of Ox- 
ford ; tradesmen and artisans followed or accompanied 
the group of gowned and venerable figures, repre- 
senting the Heads of Houses and the Professors, or 
mingled with the slowly pacing crowd of Masters; 
while along the route groups of visitors and merry- 
makers, young men in flannels or girls in light dresses, 
stood with suddenly grave faces here and there, 
caught by the general wave of mourning, and won- 
dering what such a spectacle might mean. 

Robert, losing sight of Langham as they left the 
chapel, found his arm grasped by young Cathcart, his 
correspondent. The man was a junior Fellow who had 
attached himself to Grey during the two preceding 
years with especial devotion. Robert had only a 
slight knowledge of him, but there was something in 
[ 431 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

his voice and grip which made him feel at once in- 
finitely more at home with him at this moment than 
he had felt with the old friend of his undergraduate 
years. 

They walked down Beaumont Street together. The 
rain came on again, and the long black crowd stretched 
before them was lashed by the driving gusts. As they 
went along, Cathcart told him all he wanted to know. 

'The night before the end he was perfectly calm and 
conscious. I told you he mentioned your name among 
the friends to whom he sent his good-bye. He thought 
for everybody. For all those of his House he left the 
most minute and tender directions. He forgot nothing. 
And all with such extraordinary simplicity and quiet- 
ness, like one arranging for a journey ! In the evening 
an old Quaker aunt of his, a North-country woman 
whom he had been much with as a boy, and to whom 
he was much attached, was sitting with him. I was 
there too. She was a beautiful old figure in her white 
cap and kerchief, and it seemed to please him to lie 
and look at her. "It'll not be for long, Henry," she 
said to him once. "I'm seventy -seven this spring. 
I shall come to you soon." He made no reply, and 
his silence seemed to disturb her. I don't fancy she 
had known much of his mind of late years. "You'll 
not be doubting the Lord's goodness, Henry? " she said 
to him, with the tears in her eyes. " No," he said, "no, 
never. Only it seems to be His Will we should be 
certain of nothing but Himself! I ask no more." 
I shall never forget the accent of those words: they 
were the breath of his inmost life. If ever man was 
Gottbetrunken it was he and yet not a word beyond 
[ 432 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

what he felt to be true, beyond what the intellect 
could grasp ! ' 

Twenty minutes later Robert stood by the open 
grave. The rain beat down on the black concourse of 
mourners. But there were blue spaces in the drifting 
sky, and a wavering rainy light played at intervals 
over the Wytham and Hinksey Hills, and over the 
buttercupped river meadows, where the lush hay- 
grass bent in long lines under the showers. To his 
left, the Provost, his glistening white head bare to the 
rain, was reading the rest of the service. 

As the coffin was lowered Elsmere bent over the 
grave. 'My friend, my master/ cried the yearning 
filial heart, 'oh, give me something of yourself to take 
back into life, something to brace me through this 
darkness of our ignorance, something to keep hope 
alive as you kept it to the end ! ' 

And on the inward ear there rose, with the solemn- 
ity of a last message, words which years before he had 
found marked in a little book of Meditations borrowed 
from Grey's table words long treasured and often 
repeated - 

'Amid a world of forgetfulness and decay, in the 
sight of his own shortcomings and limitations, or on 
the edge of the tomb, he alone who has found his soul 
in losing it, who in singleness of mind has lived in 
order to love and understand, will find that the God 
who is near to him as his own conscience has a face of 
light and love ! ' 

Pressing the phrases into his memory, he listened 
to the triumphant outbursts of the Christian service. 

'Man's hope,' he thought, 'has grown humbler than 
[ 433 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

this. It keeps now a more modest mien in the presence 
of the Eternal Mystery ; but is it in truth less real, less 
sustaining? Let Grey's trust answer for me/ 

He walked away, absorbed, till at last in the little 
squalid street outside the cemetery it occurred to him 
to look round for Langham. Instead, he found Cath- 
cart, who had just come up with him. 

'Is Langham behind?' he asked. 'I want a word 
with him before I go.' 

'Is he here?' asked the other with a change of 
expression. 

'But of course! He was in the chapel. How could 
you- 

'I thought he would probably go away,' said Cath- 
cart, with some bitterness. ' Grey made many efforts 
to get him to come and see him before he became so 
desperately ill. Langham came once. Grey never 
asked for him again.' 

'It is his old horror of expression, I suppose,' said 
Robert, troubled; 'his dread of being forced to take 
a line, to face anything certain and irrevocable. I un- 
derstand. He could not say good-bye to a friend to 
save his life. There is no shirking that! One must 
either do it or leave it!' 

Cathcart shrugged his shoulders, and drew a mas- 
terly little picture of Langham 's life in college. He 
had succeeded by the most adroit devices in com- 
pletely isolating himself both from the older and the 
younger men. 

'He attends college-meeting sometimes, and con- 
tributes a sarcasm or two on the cramming system 
of the college. He takes a constitutional to Summer- 
[ 434 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

town every day on the least frequented side of the 
road, that he may avoid being spoken to. And as to 
his ways of living, he and I happen to have the same 
scout old Dobson, you remember? And if I would 
let him, he would tell me tales by the hour. He is the 
only man in the University who knows anything about 
it. I gather from what he says that Langham is be- 
coming a complete valetudinarian. Everything must 
go exactly by rule his food, his work, the manage- 
ment of his clothes and any little contretemps makes 
him ill. But the comedy is to watch him when there 
is anything going on in the place that he thinks may 
lead to a canvass and to any attempt to influence him 
for a vote. On these occasions he goes off with auto- 
matic regularity to an hotel at West Malvern, and 
only reappears when the Times tells him the thing is 
done with/ 

Both laughed. Then Robert sighed. Weaknesses of 
Langham 's sort may be amusing enough to the con- 
temptuous and unconcerned outsider. But the general 
result of them, whether for the man himself or those 
whom he affects, is tragic, not comic; and Elsmere 
had good reason for knowing it. 

Later, after a long talk with the Provost, and meet- 
ings with various other old friends, he walked down 
to the station, under a sky clear from rain, and through 
a town gay with festal preparations. Not a sign now, 
in these crowded, bustling streets, of that melancholy 
pageant of the afternoon. The heroic memory had 
flashed for a moment like something vivid and gleam- 
ing in the sight of' all, understanding and ignorant. 
Now it lay committed to a few faithful hearts, there 
[ 435 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

to become one seed among many of a new religious life 
in England. 

On the platform Robert found himself nervously 
accosted by a tall shabbily-dressed man. 

'Elsmere, have you forgotten me?' 

He turned and recognised a man whom he had last 
seen as a St. Anselm's undergraduate one MacNiell, 
a handsome rowdy young Irishman, supposed to be 
clever, and decidedly popular in the college. As he 
stood looking at him, puzzled by the difference be- 
tween the old impression and the new, suddenly the 
man's story flashed across him; he remembered some 
disgraceful escapade an expulsion. 

'You came for the funeral, of course?' said the 
other, his face flushing consciously. 

'Yes and you too?' 

The man turned away, and something in his silence 
led Robert to stroll on beside him to the open end of 
the platform. 

'I have lost my only friend,' MacNiell said at last 
hoarsely. ' He took me up when my own father would 
have nothing to say to me. He found me work; he 
wrote to me ; for years he stood between me and per- 
dition. I am just going out to a post in New Zealand 
he got for me, and next week before I sail I I - 
am to be married and he was to be there. He was 
so pleased he had seen her.' 

It was one story out of a hundred like it, as Robert 
knew very well. They talked for a few minutes, then 
the train loomed in the distance. 

'He saved you,' said Robert, holding out his hand, 
'and at a dark moment in my own life I owed him 
[ 436 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

everything. There is nothing we can do for him in 
return but to remember him ! Write to me, if you 
can or will, from New Zealand, for his sake/ 

A few seconds later the train sped past the bare 
little cemetery, which lay just beyond the line. Robert 
bent forward. In the pale yellow glow of the evening 
he could distinguish the grave, the mound of gravel, 
the planks, and some figures moving beside it. He 
strained his eyes till he could see no more, his heart 
full of veneration, of memory, of prayer. In himself 
life seemed so restless and combative. Surely he, 
more than others, had need of the lofty lessons of 
death! 



CHAPTER XLV 

IN the weeks which followed weeks often of 
mental and physical depression, caused by his sense 
of personal loss and by the influence of an overworked 
state he could not be got to admit Elsmere owed 
much to Hugh Flaxman's cheery sympathetic temper, 
and became more attached to him than ever, and 
more ready than ever, should the Fates deem it so, to 
welcome him as a brother-in-law. However, the Fates 
for the moment seemed to have borrowed a leaf from 
Langham's book, and did not apparently know their 
own minds. It says volumes for Hugh Flaxman's 
general capacities as a human being that at this 
period he should have had any attention to give to 
a friend, his position as a lover was so dubious and 
difficult. 

After the evening at the Workmen's Club, and as 
a result of further meditation, he had greatly devel- 
oped the tactics first adopted on that occasion. 
He had beaten a masterly retreat, and Rose Leyburn 
was troubled with him no more. 

The result was that a certain brilliant young person 
was soon sharply conscious of a sudden drop in the 
pleasures of living. Mr. Flaxman had been the Ley- 
burns' most constant and entertaining visitor. During 
the whole of May he paid one formal call in Lerwick 
Gardens, and was then entertained tete-h-tete by Mrs. 
Leyburn, to Rose's intense subsequent annoyance, 
[ 438 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

who knew perfectly well that her mother was incap- 
able of chattering about anything but her daughters. 

He still sent flowers, but they came from his head 
gardener, addressed to Mrs. Leyburn. Agnes put 
them in water; and Rose never gave them a look. 
Rose went to Lady Helen's because Lady Helen made 
her, and was much too engaging a creature to be re- 
buffed; but, however merry and protracted the teas 
in those scented rooms might be, Mr. Flaxman's step 
on the stairs, and Mr. Flaxman's hand on the curtain 
over the door, till now the feature in the entertain- 
ment most to be counted on, were, generally speaking, 
conspicuously absent. 

He and the Leyburns met, of course ; for their list of 
common friends was now considerable; but Agnes, 
reporting matters to Catherine, could only say that 
each of these occasions left Rose more irritable, and 
more inclined to say biting things as to the foolish 
ways in which society takes its pleasures. 

Rose certainly was irritable, and at times, Agnes 
thought, depressed. But as usual she was unapproach- 
able about her own affairs, and the state of her mind 
could only be somewhat dolefully gathered from the 
fact that she was much less unwilling to go back to 
Burwood this summer than had ever been known 
before. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Flaxman left certain other people in 
no doubt as to his intentions. 

'My dear aunt/ he said calmly to Lady Charlotte, 

'I mean to marry Miss Leyburn if I can at any time 

persuade her to have me. So much you may take as 

fixed, and it will be quite waste of breath on your part 

[ 439 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

to quote dukes to me. But the other factor in the 
problem is by no means fixed. Miss Leyburn won't 
have me at present, and as for the future I have most 
salutary qualms/ 

'Hugh!' interrupted Lady Charlotte angrily, 'as if 
you had n't had the mothers of London at your feet 
for years!' 

Lady Charlotte was in a most variable frame of 
mind; one day hoping devoutly t*hat the Langham 
affair might prove lasting enough in its effects to tire 
Hugh out; the next, outraged that a silly girl should 
waste a thought on such a creature, while Hugh was 
in her way; at one time angry that an insignificant 
chit of a schoolmaster's daughter should apparently 
care so little to be the Duke of Sedbergh's niece, and 
should even dare to allow herself the luxury of snub- 
bing a Flaxman; at another, utterly sceptical as to 
any lasting obduracy on the chit's part. The girl was 
clearly anxious not to fall too easily, but as to final 
refusal pshaw ! And it made her mad that Hugh 
would hold himself so cheap. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Flaxman felt himself in no way 
called upon to answer that remark of his aunt's we 
have recorded. 

'I have qualms,' he repeated, 'but I mean to do all 
I know, and you and Helen must help me.' 

Lady Charlotte crossed her hands before her. 

'I may be a Liberal and a lion-hunter,' she said 
firmly, 'but I have still conscience enough left not to 
aid and abet my nephew in throwing himself away.' 

She had nearly slipped in 'again'; but just saved 
herself. 

f 440 1 



NEW OPENINGS 

'Your conscience is all a matter of the Duke/ he 
told her. 'Well, if you won't help me, then Helen 
and I will have to arrange it by ourselves/ 

But this did not suit Lady Charlotte at all. She had 
always played the part of earthly providence to this 
particular nephew, and it was abominable to her that 
the wretch, having refused for ten years to provide 
her with a love-affair to manage, should now manage 
one for himself in spite of her. 

' You are such an arbitrary creature ! ' she said fret- 
fully; 'you prance about the world like Don Quixote, 
and expect me to play Sancho without a murmur/ 

'How many drubbings have I brought you yet?' he 
asked her, laughing. He was really very fond of her. 
'It is true there is a point of likeness; I won't take 
your advice. But then why don't you give me better? 
It is strange,' he added, musing ; 'women talk to us 
about love as if we were too gross to understand it; 
and when they come to business, and they're not in it 
themselves, they show the temper of attorneys/ 

'Love!' cried Lady Charlotte, nettled. 'Do you 
mean to tell me, Hugh, that you are really, seriously 
in love with that girl?' 

'Well, I only know,' he said, thrusting his hands 
far into his pockets, 'that unless things mend I shall 
go out to California in the autumn and try ranching/ 

Lady Charlotte burst into an angry laugh. He 
stood opposite to her, with his orchid in his button- 
hole, himself the fine flower of civilisation. Ranching, 
indeed! However, he had done so many odd things 
in his life, that, as she knew, it was never quite safe 
to decline to take him seriously, and he looked at her 
[ 441 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

now so defiantly, his clear greenish eyes so wide open 
and alert, that her will began to waver under the 
pressure of his. 

'What do you want me to do, sir?' 

His glance relaxed at once, and he laughingly ex- 
plained to her that what he asked of her was to keep 
the prey in sight. 

'I can do nothing for myself at present/ he said; 
' I get on her nerves. She was in love with that black- 
haired enfant du sidcle, or rather, she prefers to 
assume that she was, and I have n't given her time 
to forget him. A serious blunder, and I deserve to 
suffer for it. Very well, then, I retire, and I ask you 
and Helen to keep watch. Don't let her go. Make 
yourselves nice to her; and, in fact, spoil me a little 
now I am on the highroad to forty, as you used to 
spoil me at fourteen/ 

Mr. Flaxman sat down by his aunt and kissed her 
hand, after which Lady Charlotte was as wax before 
him. 'Thank heaven/ she reflected, 'in ten days the 
Duke and all of them go out of town/ Retribution, 
therefore, for wrong-doing would be tardy if wrong- 
doing there must be. She could but ruefully reflect 
that after all the girl was beautiful and gifted ; more- 
over, if Hugh would force her to befriend him in this 
criminality, there might be a certain joy in thereby 
vindicating those Liberal principles of hers, in which 
a scornful family had always refused to believe. So, 
being driven into it, she would fain have done it boldly 
and with a dash. But she could not rid her mind of 
the Duke, and her performance all through, as a mat- 
ter of fact, was blundering. 

[ 442 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

However, she was for the time very gracious to Rose, 
being in truth really fond of her; and Rose, however 
high she might hold her little head, could find no 
excuse for quarrelling either with her or Lady Helen. 

Towards the middle of June there was a grand ball 
given by Lady Fauntleroy at Fauntleroy House, to 
which the two Miss Ley burns, by Lady Helen's mach- 
inations, were invited. It was to be one of the events 
of the season, and when the cards arrived 'to have 
the honour of meeting their Royal Highnesses/ etc., 
etc., Mrs. Ley burn, good soul, gazed at them with eyes 
which grew a little moist under her spectacles. She 
wished Richard could have seen the girls dressed, 
'just once/ But Rose treated the cards with no sort 
of tenderness. 'If one could but put them up to 
auction/ she said flippantly, holding them up, 'how 
many German opera tickets I should get for nothing ! 
I don't know what Agnes feels. As for me, I have 
neither nerve enough for the people, nor money enough 
for the toilette/ 

However, with eleven o'clock Lady Helen ran in, a 
fresh vision of blue and white, to suggest certain 
dresses for the sisters which had occurred to her in 
the visions of the night, 'original, adorable, cost, a 
mere nothing!' 

'My harpy/ she remarked, alluding to her dress- 
maker, 'would ruin you over them, of course. Your 
maid' - the Leyburns possessed a remarkably clever 
one 'will make them divinely for twopence-half- 
penny. Listen/ 

Rose listened ; her eye kindled ; the maid was sum- 
moned ; and the invitation accepted in Agnes's neatest 
[ 443 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

hand. Even Catherine was roused during the following 
ten days to a smiling indulgent interest in the concerns 
of the workroom. 

The evening came, and Lady Helen fetched the 
sisters in her carriage. The ball was a magnificent 
affair. The house was one of historical interest and 
importance, and all that the ingenuity of the present 
could do to give fresh life and gaiety to the pillared 
rooms, the carved galleries and stately staircases of 
the past, had been done. The ball-room, lined with 
Vandycks and Lelys, glowed softly with electric light ; 
the picture gallery had been banked with flowers and 
carpeted with red, and the beautiful dresses of the 
women trailed up and down it, challenging the satins 
of the Netschers and the Terburgs on the walls. 

Rose's card was soon full to overflowing. The young 
men present were of the smartest, and would not will- 
ingly have bowed the knee to a nobody, however 
pretty. But Lady Helen's devotion, the girl 's reputation 
as a musician, and her little nonchalant disdainful ways, 
gave her a kind of prestige, which made her, for the 
time being at any rate, the equal of anybody. Peti- 
tioners came and went away empty. Royalty was 
introduced, and smiled both upon the beauty and the 
beauty's delicate and becoming dress; and still Rose, 
though a good deal more flushed and erect than usual, 
and though flesh and blood could not resist the con- 
tagious pleasure which glistened even in the eyes of 
that sage Agnes, was more than half -inclined to say, 
with the Preacher, that all was vanity. 

Presently, as she stood waiting with her hand on her 
partner's arm before gliding into a waltz, she saw 
[ 444 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

Mr. Flaxman opposite to her, and with him a young 
debutante in white tulle a thin, pretty, undeveloped 
creature, whose sharp elbows and timid movements, 
together with the blushing enjoyment glowing so 
frankly from her face, pointed her out as the school- 
girl of sweet seventeen, just emancipated, and trying 
her wings. 

'Ah, there is Lady Florence!' said her partner, a 
handsome young Hussar. ' This ball is in her honour, 
you know. She comes out to-night. What, another 
cousin? Really she keeps too much in the family!' 

'Is Mr. Flaxman a cousin?' 

The young man replied that he was, and then, in 
the intervals of waltzing, went on to explain to her the 
relationships of many of the people present, till 
the whole gorgeous affair began to seem to Rose a 
mere family party. Mr. Flaxman was of it. She was 
not. 

'Why am I here?' the little Jacobin said to herself 
fiercely as she waltzed; 'it is foolish, unprofitable. I 
do not belong to them, nor they to me!' 

'Miss Ley burn! charmed to see you!' cried Lady 
Charlotte, stopping her; and then, in a loud whisper 
in her ear, 'Never saw you look better. Your taste, or 
Helen's, that dress? The roses exquisite !' 

Rose dropped her a little mock curtsey and whirled 
on again. 

'Lady Florences are always well dressed,' thought 
the child angrily; 'and who notices it?' 

Another turn brought them against Mr. Flaxman 
and his partner. Mr. Flaxman came at once to greet 
her with smiling courtesy. 

f 445 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

' I have a Cambridge friend to introduce to you 
a beautiful youth. Shall I find you by Helen? Now, 
Lady Florence, patience a moment. That corner is 
too crowded. How good that last turn was!' 

And bending with a sort of kind chivalry over his 
partner, who looked at him with the eyes of a joyous 
excited child, he led her away. Five minutes later 
Rose, standing flushed by Lady Helen, saw him com- 
ing again towards her, ushering a tall blue-eyed 
youth, whom he introduced to her as 'Lord Wayn- 
flete.' The handsome boy looked at her with a boy's 
open admiration, and beguiled her of a supper dance, 
while a group standing near, a mother and three 
daughters, stood watching with cold eyes and expres- 
sions which said plainly to the initiated that mere 
beauty was receiving a ridiculous amount of atten- 
tion. 

' I would n't have given it him, but it is rude it 
is bad manners, not even to ask ! ' the supposed victress 
was saying to herself, with quivering lips, her eyes 
following not the Trinity freshman, who was their 
latest captive, but an older man's well-knit figure, 
and a head on which the fair hair was already grow- 
ing scantily, receding a little from the fine intellect- 
ual brows. 

An hour later she was again standing by Lady 
Helen, waiting for a partner, when she saw two per- 
sons crossing the room, which was just beginning to 
fill again for dancing, towards them. One was Mr. 
Flaxman, the other was a small wrinkled old man, 
who leant upon his arm, displaying the ribbon of the 
Garter as he walked. 

[ 446 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

'Dear me/ said Lady Helen, a little fluttered, 'here 
is my Uncle Sedbergh. I thought they had left town.' 

The pair approached, and the old Duke bowed over 
his niece's hand with the manners of a past generation. 

'I made Hugh give me an arm/ he said quaveringly. 
' These floors are homicidal. If I come down on them 
I shall bring an action/ 

'I thought you had all left town?' said Lady Helen. 

'Who can make plans with a Government in power 
pledged to every sort of villainy and public plunder?' 
said the old man testily. 'I suppose Varley's there 
to-night, helping to vote away my property and 
Fauntleroy's.' 

'Some of his own too, if you please!' said Lady 
Helen, smiling. 'Yes, I suppose he is waiting for the 
division, or he would be here.' 

' I wonder why Providence blessed me with such a 
Radical crew of relations? ' remarked the Duke. ' Hugh 
is a regular Communist. I never heard such argu- 
ments in my life. And as for any idea of standing 
by his order ' The old man shook his bald head and 
shrugged his small shoulders with almost French vi- 
vacity. He had been handsome once, and delicately 
featured, but now the left eye drooped, and the face 
had a strong look of peevishness and ill-health. 

'Uncle/ interposed Lady Helen, 'let me introduce 
you to my two great friends, Miss Leyburn, Miss Rose 
Ley burn.' 

The Duke bowed, looked at them through a pair 
of sharp eyes, seemed to cogitate inwardly whether 
such a name had ever been known to him, and turned 
to his nephew. 

[447 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Get me out of this, Hugh, and I shall be obliged 
to you. Young people may risk it, but if / broke I 
should n't mend/ 

And still grumbling audibly about the floor, he 
hobbled off towards the picture gallery. Mr. Flaxman 
had only time for a smiling backward glance at Rose. 

'Have you given my pretty boy a dance?' 

'Yes/ she said, but with as much stiffness as she 
might have shown to his uncle. 

'That's over/ said Lady Helen, with relief. 'My 
uncle hardly meets any of us now without a spar. 
He has never forgiven my father for going over to 
the Liberals. And then he thinks we none of us con- 
sult him enough. No more we do except Aunt 
Charlotte. She 's afraid of him ! ' 

'Lady Charlotte afraid!' echoed Rose. 

'Odd, isn't it? The Duke avenges a good many 
victims on her, if they only knew!' 

Lady Helen was called away, and Rose was left 
standing, wondering what had happened to her 
partner. 

Opposite, Mr. Flaxman was pushing through a door- 
way, and Lady Florence was again on his arm. At 
the same time she became conscious of a morsel of 
chaperons' conversation such as, by the kind con- 
trivances of fate, a girl is tolerably sure to hear under 
similar circumstances. 

The debutante's good looks, Hugh Flaxman's appar- 
ent susceptibility to them, the possibility of results, 
and the satisfactory disposition of the family goods 
and chattels that would be brought about by such a 
match, the opportunity it would offer the man, too, 
[ 448 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

of rehabilitating himself socially after his first matri- 
monial escapade Rose caught fragments of all these 
topics as they were discussed by two old ladies, pre- 
sumably also of the family 'ring/ who gossiped behind 
her with more gusto than discretion. Highmindedness, 
of course, told her to move away ; something else held 
her fast, till her partner came up for her. 

Then she floated away into the whirlwind of waltz- 
ers. But as she moved round the room on her partner's 
arm, her delicate half-scornful grace attracting look 
after look, the soul within was all aflame aflame 
against the serried ranks and phalanxes of this un- 
familiar, hostile world! She had just been reading 
Trevelyan's 'Life of Fox' aloud to her mother, who 
liked occasionally to flavour her knitting with litera- 
ture, and she began now to revolve a passage from it, 
describing the upper class of the last century, which 
had struck that morning on her quick retentive mem- 
ory: "'A few thousand people who thought that the 
world was made for them 1 ' -did it not run so?- 
"and that all outside their own fraternity were unworthy 
of notice or criticism, bestowed upon each other an 
amount of attention quite inconceivable. . . . Within 
the charmed precincts there prevailed an easy and natural 
mode of intercourse, in some respects singularly delight- 
ful." Such, for instance, as the Duke of Sedbergh 
was master of ! Well, it was worth while, perhaps, to 
have gained an experience, even at the expense of 
certain illusions, as to the manners of dukes, and - 
and as to the constancy of friends. But never again 
never again ! ' said the impetuous inner voice. ' I 
have my world they theirs!' 
[ 449 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

But why so strong a flood of bitterness against our 
poor upper class, so well intentioned for all its occa- 
sional lack of lucidity, should have arisen in so young 
a breast it is a little difficult for the most conscientious 
biographer to explain. She had partners to her heart's 
desire; young Lord Waynflete used his utmost arts 
upon her to persuade her that at least half a dozen 
numbers of the regular programme were extras and 
therefore at his disposal ; and when royalty supped, it 
was graciously pleased to ordain that Lady Helen 
and her two companions should sup behind the same 
folding-doors as itself, while beyond these doors surged 
the inferior crowd of persons who had been specially 
invited to 'meet their Royal Highnesses/ and had so 
far been held worthy neither to dance nor to eat in 
the same room with them. But in vain. Rose still 
felt herself, for all her laughing outward insouciance, 
a poor, bruised, helpless chattel, trodden under the heel 
of a world which was intolerably powerful, rich, and self- 
satisfied, the odious product of 'family arrangements/ 

Mr. Flaxman sat far away at the same royal table 
as herself. Beside him was the thin tall debutante. 
'She is like one of the Gainsborough princesses/ 
thought Rose, studying her with involuntary admira- 
tion. 'Of course it is all plain. He will get every- 
thing he wants, and a Lady Florence into the bargain. 
Radical, indeed ! What nonsense ! ' 

Then it startled her to find that the eyes of Lady 
Florence's neighbour were, as it seemed, on herself; 
or was he merely nodding to Lady Helen? and she 
began immediately to give a smiling attention to the 
man on her left. 

[ 450 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

An hour later she and Agnes and Lady Helen were 
descending the great staircase on their way to their 
carriage. The morning light was flooding through the 
chinks of the carefully veiled windows; Lady Helen 
was yawning behind her tiny white hand, her eyes 
nearly asleep. But the two sisters, who had not been 
up till three, on four preceding nights, like their 
chaperon, were still almost as fresh as the flowers 
massed in the hall below. 

'Ah, there is Hugh!' cried Lady Helen. 'How I 
hope he has found the carriage ! ' 

At that moment Rose slipped on a spray of gar- 
denia, which had dropped from the bouquet of some 
predecessor. To prevent herself from falling down- 
stairs, she caught hold of the stem of a brazen chan- 
delier fixed in the balustrade. It saved her, but she 
gave her arm a most painful wrench, and leant limp 
and white against the railing of the stairs. Lady 
Helen turned at Agnes 's exclamation, but before she 
could speak, as it seemed, Mr. Flaxman, who had 
been standing talking just below them, was on the 
stairs. 

'You have hurt your arm? Don't speak take 
mine. Let me get you downstairs out of the crush/ 

She was too far gone to resist, and when she was 
mistress of herself again she found herself in the 
library with some water in her hand which Mr. Flax- 
man had just put there. 

'Is it the playing hand?' said Lady Helen anxiously. 

'No/ said Rose, trying to laugh; 'the bowing el- 
bow.' And she raised it, but with a contortion of 
pain. 

[ 451 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Don't raise it,' he said peremptorily. 'We will 
have a doctor here in a moment, and have it band- 
aged.' 

He disappeared. Rose tried to sit up, seized with 
a frantic longing to disobey him, and get off before 
he returned. Stinging the girl's mind was the sense 
that it might all perfectly well seem to him a planned 
appeal to his pity. 

'Agnes, help me up,' she said, with a little involun- 
tary groan; 'I shall be better at home.' 

But both Lady Helen and Agnes laughed her to 
scorn, and she lay back once more overwhelmed by 
fatigue and faintness. A few more minutes, and a 
doctor appeared, caught by good luck in the next 
street. He pronounced it a severe muscular strain, 
but nothing more; applied a lotion and improvised a 
sling. Rose consulted him anxiously as to the inter- 
ference with her playing. 

'A week,' he said; 'no more, if you are careful.' 

Her pale face brightened. Her art had seemed 
specially dear to her of late. 

'Hugh!' called Lady Helen, going to the door. 
'Now we are ready for the carriage.' 

Rose leaning on Agnes walked out into the hall. 
They found him there waiting. 

'The carriage is here,' he said, bending towards her 
with a look and tone which so stirred the fluttered 
nerves, that the sense of faintness stole back upon 
her. 'Let me take you to it.' 

'Thank you,' she said coldly, but by a superhuman 
effort; 'my sister's help is quite enough.' 

He followed them with Lady Helen. At the carriage 
[ 452 ] 



NEW OPENINGS 

door the sisters hesitated a moment. Rose was help- 
less without a right hand. A little imperative move- 
ment from behind displaced Agnes, and Rose felt 
herself hoisted in by a strong arm. She sank into the 
farther corner. The glow of the dawn caught her 
white delicate features, the curls on her temples, all 
the silken confusion of her dress. Hugh Flaxman put 
in Agnes and his sister, said something to Agnes about 
coming to inquire, and raised his hat. Rose caught the 
quick force and intensity of his eyes, and then closed 
her own, lost in a languid swoon of pain, memory, and 
resentful wonder. 

Flaxman walked away down Park Lane through the 
chill morning quietness, the gathering light striking 
over the houses beside him on to the misty stretches 
of the Park. His hat was over his eyes, his hands 
thrust into his pockets; a close observer would have 
noticed a certain trembling of the lips. It was but a 
few seconds since her young warm beauty had been 
for an instant in his arms ; his whole being was shaken 
by it, and by that last look of hers. ' Have I gone too 
far?' he asked himself anxiously. 'Is it divinely true 
-already that she resents being left to herself? 
Oh, little rebel ! You tried your best not to let me see. 
But you were angry, you were! Now. then, how to 
proceed? She is all fire, all character; I rejoice in it. 
She will give me trouble; so much the better. Poor 
little hurt thing! the fight is only beginning; but I 
will make her do penance some day for all that lofti- 
ness to-night/ 

If these reflexions betray to the reader a certain 
masterful note of confidence in Mr. Flaxman 's mind, 
[ 453 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

he will perhaps find small cause to regret that Rose 
did give him a great deal of trouble. 

Nothing could have been more 'salutary/ to use 
his own word, than the dance she led him during the 
next three weeks. She provoked him indeed at mo- 
ments so much that he was a hundred times on the 
point of trying to seize his kingdom of heaven by 
violence, of throwing himself upon her with a tempest 
shock of reproach and appeal. But some secret instinct 
restrained him. She was wilful, she was capricious; 
she had a real and powerful distraction in her art. 
He must be patient and risk nothing. 

He suspected, too, what was the truth that Lady 
Charlotte was doing harm. Rose, indeed, had grown 
so touchingly sensitive that she found offence in almost 
every word of Lady Charlotte's about her nephew. 
Why should the apparently casual remarks of the 
aunt bear so constantly on the subject of the nephew's 
social importance? Rose vowed to herself that she 
needed no reminder of that station whereunto it had 
pleased God to call her, and that Lady Charlotte might 
spare herself all those anxieties and reluctances which 
the girl's quick sense detected, in spite of the invita- 
tions so freely showered on Lerwick Gardens. 

The end of it all was that Hugh Flaxman found 
himself again driven into a corner. At the bottom of 
him was still a confidence that would not yield. Was 
it possible that he had ever given her some tiny in- 
voluntary glimpse of it, and that but for that glimpse 
she would have let him make his peace much more 
easily? At any rate, now he felt himself at the end 
of his resources. 

[ 454 ] 



Mrs. Ward's House in Russell Square 



NEW OPENINGS 

'I must change the venue/ he said to himself; 'de- 
cidedly I must change the venue/ 

So by the end of June he had accepted an invitation 
to fish in Norway with a friend, and was gone. Rose 
received the news with a callousness which made even 
Lady Helen want to shake her. 

On the eve of his journey, however, Hugh Flaxman 
had at last confessed himself to Catherine and Robert. 
His obvious plight made any further scruples on their 
part futile, and what they had they gave him in the 
way of sympathy. Also Robert, gathering that he 
already knew much, and without betraying any confi- 
dence of Rose's, gave him a hint or two on the subject 
of Langham. But more not the friendliest mortal 
could do for him, and Flaxman went off into exile 
announcing to a mocking Elsmere that he should sit 
pensive on the banks of Norwegian rivers till fortune 
had had time to change. 



BOOK VII 

GAIN AND LOSS 



CHAPTER XLVI 

A HOT July had well begun, but still Elsmere was 
toiling on in Elgood Street, and could not persuade 
himself to think of a holiday. Catherine and the child 
he had driven away more than once, but the claims 
upon himself were becoming so absorbing he did not 
know how to go even for a few weeks. There were 
certain individuals in particular who depended on him 
from day to day. One was Charles Richards's widow. 
The poor desperate creature had put herself abjectly 
into Elsmere's hands. He had sent her to an asylum, 
where she had been kindly and skilfully treated, and 
after six weeks' abstinence she had just returned to 
her children, and was being watched by himself and 
a competent woman neighbour, whom he had suc- 
ceeded in interesting in the case. 

Another was a young 'secret springer/ to use the 
mysterious terms of the trade Robson by name 
whom Elsmere had originally known as a clever work- 
man belonging to the watch-making colony, and a 
diligent attendant from the beginning on the Sunday 
lectures. He was now too ill to leave his lodgings, and 
his sickly pessimist personality had established a special 
hold on Robert. He was dying of tumour in the throat, 
and had become a torment to himself and a disgust to 
others. There was a spark of wayward genius in him, 
however, which enabled him to bear his ills with a 
mixture of savage humour and clear-eyed despair. 
[ 459 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

In general outlook he was much akin to the author of 
the ' City of Dreadful Night, ' whose poems he read ; the 
loathsome spectacles of London had filled him with 
a kind of sombre energy of revolt against all that is. 
And now that he could only work intermittently, he 
would sit brooding for hours, startling the fellow- work- 
men who came in to see him with ghastly Heine-like 
jokes on his own hideous disease, living no one exactly 
knew how, though it was supposed on supplies sent 
him by a shopkeeper uncle in the country, and con- 
stantly on the verge, as all his acquaintances felt, of 
some ingenious expedient or other for putting an end 
to himself and his troubles. He was unmarried, and 
a misogynist to boot. No woman willingly went near 
him, and he tended himself. How Robert had gained 
any hold upon him no one could guess. But from the 
moment when Elsmere, struck in the lecture-room by 
the pallid ugly face and swathed neck, began regularly 
to go and see him, the elder man felt instinctively 
that virtue had gone out of him, and that in some 
subtle way yet another life had become pitifully, 
silently dependent on his own stock of strength and 
comfort. 

His lecturing and teaching work also was becoming 
more and more the instrument of far-reaching change, 
and therefore more and more difficult to leave. The 
thoughts of God, the image of Jesus, which were 
active and fruitful in his own mind, had been gradu- 
ally passing from the one into the many, and Robert 
watched the sacred transforming emotion, once nur- 
tured at his own heart, now working among the crowd 
of men and women his fiery speech had gathered round 
[ 460 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

him, with a trembling joy, a humble prostration of 
the soul before the Eternal Truth, no words can fitly 
describe. With an ever-increasing detachment of 
mind from the objects of self and sense, he felt himself 
a tool in the Great Workman's hand. 'Accomplish 
Thy purposes in me/ was the cry of his whole heart 
and life; 'use me to the utmost; spend every faculty 
I have, "0 Thou who mouldest men"!' 

But in the end his work itself drove him away. A 
certain memorable Saturday evening brought it about. 
It had been his custom of late to spend an occasional 
evening hour after his night-school work in the North 
R - Club, of which he was now by invitation a 
member. Here, in one of the inner rooms, he would 
stand against the mantelpiece chatting, smoking often 
with the men. Everything came up in turn to be 
discussed ; and Robert was at least as ready to learn 
from the practical workers about him as to teach. 
But in general these informal talks and debates be- 
came the supplement of the Sunday lectures. Here 
he met Andrews and the Secularist crew face to face ; 
here he grappled in Socratic fashion with objections 
and difficulties, throwing into the task all his charm 
and all his knowledge, a man at once of no preten- 
sions and of unfailing natural dignity. Nothing, so far, 
had served his cause and his influence so well as these 
moments of free discursive intercourse. The mere 
orator, the mere talker, indeed, would never have 
gained any permanent hold ; but the life behind gave 
weight to every acute or eloquent word, and import- 
ance even to those mere sallies of a boyish enthusiasm 
which were still common enough in him. 
[ 461 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

He had already visited the club once during the 
week preceding this Saturday. On both occasions 
there was much talk of the growing popularity and 
efficiency of the Elgood Street work, of the numbers 
attending the lectures, the story-telling, the Sunday- 
school, and of the way in which the attractions of it 
had spread into other quarters of the parish, exciting 
there, especially among the clergy of St. Wilfrid's, an 
anxious and critical attention. The conversation on 
Saturday night, however, took a turn of its own. 
Robert felt in it a new and curious note of responsi- 
bility. The men present were evidently beginning to 
regard the work as their work also, and its success as 
their interest. It was perfectly natural, for not only 
had most of them been his supporters and hearers 
from the beginning, but some of them were now 
actually teaching in the night-school or helping in the 
various branches of the large and overflowing boys' 
club. He listened to them for a while in his favourite 
attitude, leaning against the mantelpiece, throwing in 
a word or two now and then as to how this or that 
part of the work might be amended or expanded. 
Then suddenly a kind of inspiration seemed to pass 
from them to him. Bending forward as the talk 
dropped a moment, he asked them, with an accent 
more emphatic than usual, whether in view of this 
collaboration of theirs, which was becoming more 
valuable to him and his original helpers every week, 
it was not time for a new departure. 

'Suppose I drop my dictatorship/ he said, 'suppose 
we set up parliamentary government, are you ready 
to take your share? Are you ready to combine, to 
[ 462 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

commit yourselves? Are you ready for an effort to 
turn this work into something lasting and organic?' 

The men gathered round him smoked on in silence 
for a minute. Old Macdonald, who had been sitting 
contentedly puffing away in a corner peculiarly his 
own, and dedicated to the glorification in broad 
Berwickshire of the experimental philosophers, laid 
down his pipe and put on his spectacles, that he might 
grasp the situation better. Then Lestrange, in a dry 
cautious way, asked Elsmere to explain himself 
further. 

Robert began to pace up and down, talking out his 
thought, his eye kindling. 

But in a minute or two he stopped abruptly, with 
one of those striking rapid gestures characteristic of 
him. 

'But no mere social and educational body, mind 
you!' and his bright commanding look swept round 
the circle. 'A good thing surely, "yet is there better 
than it." The real difficulty of every social effort 
you know it and I know it lies, not in the planning 
of the work, but in the kindling of will and passion 
enough to carry it through. And that can only be done 
by religion by faith/ 

He went back to his old leaning attitude, his hands 
behind him. The men gazed at him at the slim 
figure, the transparent changing face with a kind 
of fascination, but were still silent, till Macdonald 
said slowly, taking off his glasses again and clearing 
his throat, - 

' You '11 be aboot starrtin' a new church, I 'm thinkin', 
Misther Elsmere?' 

[ 463 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'If you like/ said Robert impetuously. 'I have no 
fear of the great words. You can do nothing by de- 
spising the past and its products ; you can also do 
nothing by being too much afraid of them, by letting 
them choke and stifle your own life. Let the new wine 
have its new bottles if it must, and never mind words. 
Be content to be a new "sect/' "conventicle," or 
what not, so long as you feel that you are something 
with a life and purpose of its own, in this tangle of 
a world/ 

Again he paused with knit brows, thinking. Le- 
strange sat with his elbows on his knees studying him, 
the spare grey hair brushed back tightly from the 
bony face, on the lips the slightest Voltairean smile. 
Perhaps it was the coolness of his look which insensibly 
influenced Robert's next words. 

' However, I don't imagine we should call ourselves 
a church! Something much humbler will do, if you 
choose ever to make anything of these suggestions of 
mine. ' ' Association, " " society, " " brotherhood, ' ' what 
you will! But always, if I can persuade you, with 
something in the name, and everything in the body 
itself, to show that for the members of it life rests still, 
as all life worth having has everywhere rested, on 
trust and memory! trust in the God of experience 
and history; memory of that God's work in man, by 
which alone we know Him and can approach Him. 
Well, of that work I have tried to prove it to you a 
thousand times Jesus of Nazareth has become to us, 
by the evolution of circumstance, the most moving, 
the most efficacious of all types and epitomes. We have 
made our protest we are daily making it in the 
[ 464 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

face of society, against the fictions and overgrowths 
which at the present time are excluding him more and 
more from human love. But now, suppose we turn 
our backs on negation, and have done with mere de- 
nial ! Suppose we throw all our energies into the prac- 
tical building of a new house of faith, the gathering 
and organising of a new Company of Jesus ! ' 

Other men had been stealing in while he was speak- 
ing. The little room was nearly full. It was strange, 
the contrast between the squalid modernness of the 
scene, with its incongruous sights and sounds, the 
club-room, painted in various hideous shades of 
cinnamon and green, the smoke, the lines and groups 
of workingmen in every sort of working dress, the 
occasional rumbling of huge waggons past the window, 
the click of glasses and cups in the refreshment bar 
outside, and this stir of spiritual passion which any 
competent observer might have felt sweeping through 
the little crowd as Robert spoke, connecting what 
was passing there with all that is sacred and beautiful 
in the history of the world. 

After another silence a young fellow, in a shabby 
velvet coat, stood up. He was commonly known 
among his fellow-potters as 'the hartist,' because of 
his long hair, his little affectations of dress, and his 
aesthetic susceptibilities generally. The wits of the 
club made him their target, but the teasing of him that 
went on was more or less tempered by the knowledge 
that in his own queer way he had brought up and 
educated two young sisters almost from infancy, and 
that his sweetheart had been killed before his eyes a 
year before in a railway accident. 
[ 465 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'I dun know/ he said in a high treble voice, 'I dun 
know whether I speak for anybody but myself very 
likely not; but what I do know/ and he raised his 
right hand and shook it with a gesture of curious 
felicity, Ms this what Mr. Elsmere starts I'll join; 
where he goes I'll go; what's good enough for him's 
good enough for me. He's put a new heart and a new 
stomach into me, and what I've got he shall have, 
whenever it pleases 'im to call for it ! So if he wants 
to run a new thing against or alongside the old uns, 
and he wants me to help him with it I don't know 
as I'm very clear what he's driving at, nor what good 
I can do 'im but when Tom Wheeler's asked for 
he '11 be there!' 

A deep murmur, rising almost into a shout of assent, 
ran through the little assembly. Robert bent forward, 
his eye glistening, a moved acknowledgement in his 
look and gesture. But in reality a pang ran through 
the fiery soul. It was 'the personal estimate/ after 
all, that was shaping their future and his, and the 
idealist was up in arms for his idea, sublimely jealous 
lest any mere personal fancy should usurp its power 
and place. 

A certain amount of desultory debate followed as to 
the possible outlines of a possible organisation, and as 
to the observances which might be devised to mark 
its religious character. As it flowed on the atmosphere 
grew more and more electric. A new passion, though 
still timid and awestruck, seemed to shine from the 
looks of the men standing or sitting round the central 
figure. Even Lestrange lost his smile under the press- 
ure of that strange subdued expectancy about him; 
[ 466 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

and when Robert walked homeward, about midnight, 
there weighed upon him an almost awful sense of 
crisis, of an expanding future. 

He let himself in softly and went into his study. 
There he sank into a chair and fainted. He was prob- 
ably not unconscious very long, but after he had 
struggled back to his senses, and was lying stretched 
on the sofa among the books with which it was littered, 
the solitary candle in the big room throwing weird 
shadows about him, a moment of black depression 
overtook him. It was desolate and terrible, like a 
prescience of death. How was it he had come to feel 
so ill? Suddenly, as he looked back over the pre- 
ceding weeks, the physical weakness and disturbance 
which had marked them, and which he had struggled 
through, paying as little heed as possible, took shape, 
spectre-like, in his mind. 

And at the same moment a passionate rebellion 
against weakness and disablement arose in him. He 
sat up dizzily, his head in his hands. 

'Rest strength/ he said to himself, with strong 
inner resolve, 'for the work's sake!' 

He dragged himself up to bed and said nothing to 
Catherine till the morning. Then, with boyish bright- 
ness, he asked her to take him and the babe off with- 
out delay to the Norman coast, vowing that he would 
lounge and idle for six whole weeks if she would let 
him. Shocked by his looks, she gradually got from 
him the story of the night before. As he told it, his 
swoon was a mere untoward incident and hindrance in 
a spiritual drama, the thrill of which, while he de- 
scribed it, passed even to her. The contrast, however, 
[ 467 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

between the strong hopes she felt pulsing through him, 
and his air of fragility and exhaustion, seemed to 
melt the heart within her, and make her whole being, 
she hardly knew why, one sensitive dread. She sat 
beside him, her head laid against his shoulder, op- 
pressed by a strange and desolate sense of her com- 
paratively small share in this ardent life. In spite of 
his tenderness and devotion, she felt often as though 
he were no longer hers as though a craving hungry 
world, whose needs were all dark and unintelligible 
to her, were asking him from her, claiming to use as 
roughly and prodigally as it pleased the quick mind 
and delicate frame. 

As to the schemes developing round him, she could 
not take them in whether for protest or sympathy. She 
could think only of where to go, what doctor to con- 
sult, how she could persuade him to stay away long 
enough. 

There was little surprise in Elgood Street when 
Elsmere announced that he must go off for a while. 
He so announced it that everybody who heard him 
understood that his temporary withdrawal was to be 
the mere preparation for a great effort the vigil 
before the tourney; and the eager friendliness with 
which he was met sent him off in good heart. 

Three or four days later he, Catherine, and Mary 
were at Petites Dalles, a little place on the Norman 
coast, near Fecamp, with which he had first made 
acquaintance years before, when he was at Oxford. 

Here all that in London had been oppressive in the 
August heat suffered 'a sea change/ and became so 
[ 468 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

much matter for physical delight. It was fiercely hot 
indeed. Every morning, between five and six o'clock, 
Catherine would stand by the little white-veiled 
window, in the dewy silence, to watch the eastern 
shadows spreading sharply already into a blazing 
world of sun, and see the tall poplar just outside shoot- 
ing into a quivering changeless depth of blue. Then, 
as early as possible, they would sally forth before 
the glare became unbearable. The first event of the 
day was always Mary's bath, which gradually be- 
came a spectacle for the whole beach, so ingenious 
were the blandishments of the father who wooed her 
into the warm sandy shallows, and so beguiling the 
glee and pluck of the two-year-old English bebe. By 
eleven the heat out of doors grew intolerable, and they 
would stroll back father and mother and trailing 
child past the hotels on the plage, along the ir- 
regular village lane, to the little house where they 
had established themselves, with Mary's nurse and a 
French bonne to look after them ; would find the green 
wooden shutters drawn close; the dejeuner waiting for 
them in the cool bare room ; and the scent of the coffee 
penetrating from the kitchen, where the two maids 
kept up a dumb but perpetual warfare. Then after- 
wards Mary, emerging from her sunbonnet, would be 
tumbled into her white bed upstairs, and lie, a flushed 
image of sleep, till the patter of her little feet on the 
boards which alone separated one storey from the 
other, warned mother and nurse that an imp of mis- 
chief was let loose again. Meanwhile Robert, in the 
carpetless salon, would lie back in the rickety arm- 
chair which was its only luxury, lazily dozing and 
[ 469 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

dreaming, Balzac, perhaps, in his hand, but quite 
another comedie humaine unrolling itself vaguely 
meanwhile in the contriving optimist mind. 

Petites Dalles was not fashionable yet, though it 
aspired to be; but it could boast of a deputy, and a 
senator, and a professor of the College de France, as 
good as any at Etretat, a tired journalist or two, and 
a sprinkling of Rouen men of business. Robert 
soon made friends among them, more suo, by dint 
of a rough-and-ready French, spoken with the 
most unblushing accent imaginable, and lounged 
along the sands through many an amusing and 
sociable hour with one or other of his new ac- 
quaintances. 

But by the evening husband and wife would leave 
the crowded beach, and mount by some tortuous 
dusty way on to the high plateau through which was 
cleft far below the wooded fissure of the village. Here 
they seemed to have climbed the beanstalk into a new 
world. The rich Normandy country lay all round them 
the cornfields, the hedgeless tracts of white-flow- 
ered lucerne or crimson clover, dotted by the orchard 
trees which make one vast garden of the land as one 
sees it from a height. On the fringe of the cliff, where 
the soil became too thin and barren even for French 
cultivation, there was a wild belt, half heather, half 
tangled grass and flower-growth, which the English 
pair loved for their own special reasons. Bathed in 
light, cooled by the evening wind, the patches of 
heather glowing, the tall grasses swaying in the breeze, 
there were moments when its wide, careless, dusty 
beauty reminded them poignantly, and yet most 
[ 470 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

sweetly, of the home of their first unclouded happi- 
ness, of the Surrey commons and wildernesses. 

One evening they were sitting in the warm dusk by 
the edge of a little dip of heather sheltered by a tuft 
of broom, when suddenly they heard the purring 
sound of the night-jar, and immediately after the bird 
itself lurched past them, and as it disappeared into the 
darkness they caught several times the characteristic 
click of the wing. 

Catherine raised her hand and laid it on Robert's. 
The sudden tears dropped on to her cheeks. 

'Did you hear it, Robert?' 

He drew her to him. These involuntary signs of an 
abiding pain in her always smote him to the heart. 

'I am not unhappy, Robert/ she said at last, raising 
her head. 'No; if you will only get well and strong. 
I have submitted. It is not for myself, but - 

For what then? Merely the touchingness of mortal 
things as such? of youth, of hope, of memory? 

Choking down a sob, she looked seaward over the 
curling flame-coloured waves, while he held her hand 
close and tenderly. No she was not unhappy. 
Something, indeed, had gone for ever out of that early 
joy. Her life had been caught and nipped in the great 
inexorable wheel of things. It would go in some sense 
maimed to the end. But the bitter self -torturing of 
that first endless year was over. Love, and her hus- 
band, and the thousand subtle forces of a changing 
world had conquered. She would live and die stead- 
fast to the old faiths. But her present mind and its 
outlook was no more the mind of her early married 
life than the Christian philosophy of to-day is the 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Christian philosophy of the Middle Ages. She was not 
conscious of change, but change there was. She had, 
in fact, undergone that dissociation of the moral judge- 
ment from a special series of religious formulae which 
is the crucial, the epoch-making fact of our day. ' Un- 
belief/ says the orthodox preacher, 'is sin, and implies 
it ' : and while he speaks, the saint in the unbeliever 
gently smiles down his argument, and suddenly, in the 
rebel of yesterday men see the rightful heir of to- 
morrow. 



CHAPTER XLVII 

MEANWHILE the Leyburns were at Burwood again. 
Rose's summer, indeed, was much varied by visits to 
country houses many of them belonging to friends 
and acquaintances of the Flaxman family by con- 
certs, and the demands of several new and exciting 
artistic friendships. But she was seldom loth to come 
back to the little bare valley and the grey-walled 
house. Even the rain which poured down in August, 
quite unabashed by any consciousness of fine weather 
elsewhere, was not as intolerable to her as in past days. 

The girl was not herself ; there was visible in her not 
only that general softening and deepening of character 
which had been the consequence of her trouble in the 
spring, but a painful ennui she could hardly disguise, 
a longing for she knew not what. She was beginning 
to take the homage paid to her gift and her beauty with 
a quiet dignity, which was in no sense false modesty, 
but implied a certain clearness of vision, curious and 
disquieting in so young and dazzling a creature. And 
when she came home from her travels she would de- 
velop a taste for long walks, breasting the mountains 
in rain or sun, penetrating to their austerest solitudes 
alone, as though haunted by that profound saying of 
Obermann, 'Man is not made for enjoyment only - 
la tristesse fait aussi partie de ses vastes besoins.' 

What, indeed, was it that ailed her? In her lonely 
moments, especially in those moments among the high 
[ .473 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

fells, beside some little tarn or streamlet, while the 
sheets of mist swept by her, or the great clouds dap- 
pled the spreading sides of the hills, she thought often 
of Langham of that first thrill of passion which had 
passed through her, delusive and abortive, like one of 
those first thrills of spring which bring out the buds, 
only to provide victims for the frost. Now with her 
again 'a moral east wind was blowing/ The passion 
was gone. The thought of Langham still roused in her 
a pity that seemed to strain at her heart-strings. But 
was it really she, really this very Rose, who had rested 
for that one intoxicating instant on his breast? She 
felt a sort of bitter shame over her own shallowness of 
feeling. She must surely be a poor creature, else how 
could such a thing have befallen her and have left so 
little trace behind? 

And then, her hand dabbling in the water, her face 
raised to the blind friendly mountains, she would go 
dreaming far afield. Little vignettes of London would 
come and go on the inner retina; smiles and sighs 
would follow one another. 

'How kind he was that time! how amusing this! 1 

Or, 'How provoking he was that afternoon! how cold 
that evening!' 

Nothing else the pronoun remained ambiguous. 

'I want a friend!' she said to herself once as she 
was sitting far up in the bosom of High Fell, 'I want 
a friend badly. Yet my lover deserts me, and I send 
away my friend!' 

One afternoon Mrs. Thornburgh, the vicar, and Rose 
were wandering round the churchyard together, en- 
joying a break of sunny weather after days of rain. 
[ 474 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

Mrs. Thornburgh's personal accent, so to speak, had 
grown perhaps a little more defined, a little more em- 
phatic even, than when we first knew her. The vicar, 
on the other hand, was a trifle greyer, a trifle more 
submissive, as though on the whole, in the long con- 
jugal contest of life, he was getting clearly worsted as 
the years went on. But the performance through 
which his wife was now taking him tried him excep- 
tionally, and she only kept him to it with difficulty. 
She had had an attack of bronchitis in the spring, and 
was still somewhat delicate a fact which to his 
mind gave her an unfair advantage of him. For she 
would make use of it to keep constantly before him 
ideas which he disliked, and in which he considered 
she took a morbid and unbecoming pleasure. The 
vicar was of opinion that when his latter end overtook 
him he should meet it on the whole as courageously 
as other men. But he was altogether averse to dwell- 
ing upon it, or the adjuncts of it, beforehand. Mrs. 
Thornburgh, however, since her illness had awoke to 
that inquisitive affectionate interest in these very 
adjuncts which many women feel. And it was ex- 
tremely disagreeable to the vicar. 

At the present moment she was engaged in choosing 
the precise spots in the little churchyard where it 
seemed to her it would be pleasant to rest. There was 
one corner in particular which attracted her, and she 
stood now looking at it with measuring eyes and dis- 
satisfied mouth. 

'William, I wish you would come here and help me !' 
The vicar took no notice, but went on talking to 
Rose. 

[ 475 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'William!' imperatively. 

The vicar turned unwillingly. 

'You know, William, if you wouldn't mind lying 
with your feet that way, there would be just room for 
me. But, of course, if you will have them the other 
way The shoulders in the old black silk mantle 
went up, and the grey curls shook dubiously. 

The vicar's countenance showed plainly that he 
thought the remark worse than irrelevant. 

'My dear/ he said crossly, 'I am not thinking of 
those things, nor do I wish to think of them. Every- 
thing has its time and place. It is close on tea, and 
Miss Rose says she must be going home/ 

Mrs. Thornburgh again shook her head, this time 
with a disapproving sigh. 

'You talk, William/ she said severely, 'as if you 
were a young man, instead of being turned sixty-six 
last birthday.' 

And again she measured the spaces with her eye, 
checking the results aloud. But the vicar was obdur- 
ately deaf. He strolled on with Rose, who was chat- 
tering to him about a visit to Manchester, and the 
little church gate clicked behind them. Hearing it, 
Mrs. Thornburgh relaxed her measurements. They 
were only really interesting to her after all when the 
vicar was by. She hurried after them as fast as her 
short squat figure would allow, and stopped midway 
to make an exclamation. 

'A carriage!' she said, shading her eyes with a very 
plump hand, 'stopping at Greybarns!' 

The one road of the valley was visible from the 
churchyard, winding along the bottom of the shallow 
[ 476 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

green trough, for at least two miles. Greybarns was 
a farmhouse just beyond Burwood, about half a mile 
away. 

Mrs. Thornburgh moved on, her matronly face aglow 
with interest. 

'Mary Jenkinson taken ill!' she said. 'Of course, 
that's Dr. Baker! Well, it's to be hoped it won't 
be twins this time. But, as I told her last Sunday, 
"It's constitutional, my dear." I knew a woman who 
had three pairs! Five o'clock now. Well, about seven 
it'll be worth while sending to inquire/ 

When she overtook the vicar and his companion, 
she began to whisper certain particulars into the ear 
that was not on Rose's side. The vicar, who, like Uncle 
Toby, was possessed of a fine natural modesty, would 
have preferred that his wife should refrain from 
whispering on these topics in Rose's presence. But he 
submitted lest opposition should provoke her into 
still more audible improprieties; and Rose walked on 
a step or two in front of the -pair, her eyes twinkling 
a little. At the vicarage gate she was let off without 
the customary final gossip. Mrs. Thornburgh was so 
much occupied in the fate hanging over Mary Jenkin- 
son that she, for once, forgot to catechise Rose as to 
any marriageable young men she might have come 
across in a recent visit to a great country house of the 
neighbourhood; an operation which formed the in- 
variable pendant to any of Rose's absences. 

So, with a smiling nod to them both, the girl turned 

homewards. As she did so she became aware of a 

man's figure walking along the space of road between 

Greybarns and Burwood, the western light behind it. 

[ 477 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Dr. Baker? But even granting that Mrs. Jenkin- 
son had brought him five miles on a false alarm, in 
the provoking manner of matrons, the shortest pro- 
fessional visit could not be over in this time. 

She looked again, shading her eyes. She was near- 
ing the gate of Bur wood, and involuntarily slackened 
step. The man who was approaching, catching sight 
of the slim girlish figure in the broad hat and pink 
and white cotton dress, hurried up. The colour rushed 
to Rose's cheek. In another minute she and Hugh 
Flaxman were face to face. 

She could not hide her astonishment. 

'Why are you not in Scotland?' she said after she 
had given him her hand. 'Lady Helen told me last 
week she expected you in Ross-shire/ 

Directly the words left her mouth she felt she had 
given him an opening. And why had Nature plagued 
her with this trick of blushing? 

' Because I am here ! ' he said smiling, his keen danc- 
ing eyes looking down upon her. He was bronzed as 
she had never seen him. And never had he seemed to 
bring with him such an atmosphere of cool pleasant 
strength. ' I have slain so much since the first of July 
that I can slay no more. I am not like other men. 
The Nimrod in me is easily gorged, and goes to sleep 
alter a while. So this is Burwood?' 

He had caught her just on the little sweep leading 
to the gate, and now his eye swept quickly over the 
modest old house, with its trim garden, its overgrown 
porch and open casement windows. She dared not 
ask him again why he was there. In the properest 
manner she invited him 'to come in and see mamma.' 
[ 478 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

'I hope Mrs. Leyburn is better than she was in 
town? I shall be delighted to see her. But must you go 
in so soon? I left my carriage half a mile below, and 
have been revelling in the sun and air. I am loth to 
go indoors yet a while. Are you busy? Would it trou- 
ble you to put me in the way to the head of the valley? 
Then, if you will allow me, I will present myself later/ 

Rose thought his request as little in the ordinary 
line of things as his appearance. But she turned and 
walked beside him, pointing out the crags at the head, 
the great sweep of High Fell, and the pass over to 
Ullswater, with as much sang-froid as she was mis- 
tress of. 

He, on his side, informed her that on his way to 
Scotland he had bethought himself that he had never 
seen the Lakes, that he had stopped at Whinborough, 
was bent on walking over the High Fell pass to Ulls- 
water, and making his way thence to Ambleside, 
Grasmere, and Keswick. 

'But you are much too late to-day to get to Ulls- 
water?' cried Rose incautiously. 

'Certainly. You see my hotel/ and he pointed, 
smiling, to a white farmhouse standing just at the 
bend of the valley, where the road turned towards 
Whinborough. 'I persuaded the good woman there 
to give me a bed for the night, took my carriage a 
little farther, then, knowing I had friends in these 
parts, I came on to explore/ 

Rose angrily felt her flush getting deeper and 
deeper. 

'You are the first tourist/ she said coolly, 'who 
has ever stayed in Whindale/ 
[ 479 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Tourist ! I repudiate the name. I am a worshipper 
at the shrine of Wordsworth and Nature. Helen and 
I long ago defined a tourist as a being with straps. 
I defy you to discover a strap about me, and I left 
my Murray in the railway carriage/ 

He looked at her laughing. She laughed too. The 
infection of his strong sunny presence was irresistible. 
In London it had been so easy to stand on her dignity, 
to remember whenever he was friendly that the night 
before he had been distant. In these green solitudes 
it was not easy to be anything but natural the 
child of the moment ! 

'You are neither more practical nor more econom- 
ical than when I saw you last/ she said demurely. 
'When did you leave Norway?' 

They wandered on past the vicarage talking fast. 
Mr. Flaxman, who had been joined for a time, on 
his fishing tour, by Lord Waynflete, was giving her 
an amusing account of the susceptibility to titles 
shown by the primitive democrats of Norway. As 
they passed a gap in the vicarage hedge, laughing 
and chatting, Rose became aware of a window and 
a grey head hastily withdrawn. Mr. Flaxman was 
puzzled by the merry flash, instantly suppressed, that 
shot across her face. 

Presently they reached the hamlet of High Close, 
and the house where Mary Backhouse died, and where 
her father and the poor bedridden Jim still lived. 
They mounted the path behind it, and plunged into 
the hazel plantation which had sheltered Robert and 
Catherine on a memorable night. But when they were 
through it, Rose turned to the right along a scram- 
[ 480 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

bling path leading to the top of the first great 
shoulder of High Fell. It was a steep climb, though 
a short one, and it seemed to Rose that when she had 
once let him help her over a rock her hand was never 
her own again. He kept it an almost constant 
prisoner on one pretext or another till they were at 
the top. 

Then she sank down on a rock out of breath. He 
stood beside her, lifting his brown wideawake from 
his brow. The air below had been warm and relaxing. 
Here it played upon them both with a delicious life- 
giving freshness. He looked round on the great hol- 
low bosom of the fell, the crags buttressing it on either 
hand, the winding greenness of the valley, the white 
sparkle of the river. 

'It reminds me a little of Norway. The same aus- 
tere and frugal beauty the same bare valley floors. 
But no pines, no peaks, no fiords ! ' 

'No!' said Rose scornfully, 'we are not Norway, 
and we are not Switzerland. To prevent disappoint- 
ment, I may at once inform you that we have no 
glaciers, and that there is perhaps only one place in 
the district where a man who was not an idiot could 
succeed in killing himself/ 

He looked at her, calmly smiling. 

'You are angry/ he said, 'because I make com- 
parisons. You are wholly on a wrong scent. I never 
saw a scene in the world that pleased me half as 
much as this bare valley, that grey roof and he 
pointed to Burwood among its trees 'and this knoll 
of rocky ground/ 

His look travelled back to her, and her eyes sank 
[ 481 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

beneath it. He threw himself down on the short grass 
beside her. 

'It rained this morning/ she still had the spirit to 
murmur under her breath. 

He took not the smallest heed. 

'Do you know/ he said and his voice dropped 
'can you guess at all why I am here to-day?' 

'You had never seen the Lakes/ she repeated in 
a prim voice, her eyes still cast down, the corners 
of her mouth twitching. 'You stopped at Whinbor- 
ough, intending to take the pass over to Ullswater, 
thence to make your way to Ambleside and Keswick 
or was it to Keswick and Ambleside?' 

She looked up innocently. But the flashing glance 
she met abashed her again. 

'Taquine!' he said, 'but you shall not laugh me 
out of countenance. If I said all that to you just 
now, may I be forgiven? One purpose, one only, 
brought me from Norway, forbade me to go to Scot- 
land, drew me to Whinborough, guided me up your 
valley the purpose of seeing your face!' 

It could not be said at that precise moment that 
he had attained it. Rather she seemed bent on hid- 
ing that face quite away from him. It seemed to 
him an age before, drawn by the magnetism of his 
look, her hands dropped, and she faced him, crimson, 
her breath fluttering a little. Then she would have 
spoken, but he would not let her. Very tenderly and 
quietly his hand possessed itself of hers as he knelt 
beside her. 

'I have been in exile for two months you sent 
me. I saw that I troubled you in London. You 
[ 482 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

thought I was pursuing you pressing you. Your 
manner said " Go ! " and I went. But do you think that 
for one day, or hour, or moment I have thought of 
anything else 1 in those Norway woods but of you and 
of this blessed moment when I should be at your 
feet, as I am now?' 

She trembled. Her hand seemed to leap in his. 
His gaze melted, enwrapped her. He bent forward. 
In another moment her silence would have so an- 
swered for her that his covetous arms would have 
stolen about her for good and all. But suddenly a 
kind of shiver ran through her a shiver which was 
half memory, half shame. She drew back violently, 
covering her eyes with her hand. 

'Oh no, no!' she cried, and her other hand strug- 
gled to get free, 'don't, don't talk to me so I have 
a a confession.' 

He watched her, his lips trembling a little, a smile 
of the most exquisite indulgence and understanding 
dawning in his eyes. Was she going to confess to 
him what he knew so well already? If he could only 
force her to say it on his breast. 

But she held him at arm's length. 

'You remember -- you remember Mr. Lang- 
ham?' 

'Remember him!' echoed Mr. Flaxman fervently. 

'That thought-reading night at Lady Charlotte's, 
on the way home, he spoke to me. I said I loved him. 
I did love him ; I let him kiss me ! ' 

Her flush had quite faded. He could hardly tell 
whether she was yielding or defiant as the words burst 
from her. 

[483 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

An expression, half trouble, half compunction, came 
into his face. 

'I knew/ he said, very low; 'or rather, I guessed/ 
And for an instant it occurred to him 'to unburden 
himself, to ask her pardon for that espionage of his. 
But no, no; not till he had her safe. 'I guessed, I 
mean, that there had been something grave between 
you. I saw you were sad. I would have given the 
world to comfort you/ 

Her lip quivered childishly. 

'I said I loved him that night. The next morning 
he wrote to me that it could never be/ 

He looked at her a moment embarrassed. The con- 
versation was not easy. Then the smile broke once 
more. 

'And you have forgotten him as he deserved. If 
I were not sure of that I could wish him all the tor- 
tures of the Inferno! As it is, I cannot think of him; 
I cannot let you think of him. Sweet, do you know 
that ever since I first saw you the one thought of 
my days, the dream of my nights, the purpose of 
my whole life, has been to win you? There was an- 
other in the field ; I knew it. I stood by and waited. 
He failed you I knew he must in some form or 
other. Then I was hasty, and you resented it. Little 
tyrant, you made yourself a Rose with many thorns ! 
But, tell me, tell me, it is all over your pain, my 
waiting. Make yourself sweet to me ! unfold to me at 
last!' 

An instant she wavered. His bliss was almost in his 
grasp. Then she sprang up, and Flaxman found him- 
self standing by her, rebuffed and surprised. 
[ 484 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

'No, no!' she cried, holding out her hands to him, 
though, all the time. 'Oh, it is too soon! I should 
despise myself, I do despise myself. It tortures me that 
I can change and forget so easily ; it ought to torture 
you. Oh, don't ask me yet to to - 

'To be my wife/ he said calmly, his cheek a little 
flushed, his eye meeting hers with a passion in it that 
strove so hard for self-control it was almost sternness. 

'Not yet!' she pleaded, and then, after a moment's 
hesitation, she broke into the most appealing smiles, 
though the tears were in her eyes, hurrying out the 
broken, beseeching words. ' I want a friend so much 

- a real friend. Since Catherine left I have had no 
one. I have been running riot. Take me in hand. 
Write to me, scold me, advise me, I will be your pupil, 
I will tell. you everything. You seem to me so fear- 
fully wise, so much older. Oh, don't be vexed. And 

- and in six months - 

She turned away, rosy as her name. He held her 
still, so rigidly, that her hands were almost hurt. The 
shadow of the hat fell over her eyes ; the delicate out- 
lines of the neck and shoulders in the pretty pale 
dress were defined against the green hill background. 
He studied her deliberately, a hundred different ex- 
pressions sweeping across his face. A debate of the 
most feverish interest was going on within him. Her 
seriousness at the moment, the chances of the future, 
her character, his own all these knotty points 
entered into it, had to be weighed and decided with 
lightning rapidity. But Hugh Flaxman was born 
under a lucky star, and the natal charm held 
good. 

[ 485 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

At last he gave a long breath ; he stooped and kissed 
her hands. 

'So be it. For six months I will be your guardian, 
your friend, your teasing implacable censor. At the 
end of that time I will be well, never mind what. 
I give you fair warning/ 

He released her. Rose clasped her hands before her 
and stood drooping. Now that she had gained her 
point, all her bright mocking independence seemed to 
have vanished. She might have been in reality the 
tremulous timid child she seemed. His spirits rose; 
he began to like the role she had assigned to him. 
The touch of unexpectedness, in all she said and did, 
acted with exhilarating force on his fastidious ro- 
mantic sense. 

'Now, then/ he said, picking up her gloves from the 
grass, 'you have given me my rights; I will begin to 
exercise them at once. I must take you home, the 
clouds are coming up again, and on the way will you 
kindly give me a full, true, and minute account of 
these two months during which you have been so 
dangerously left to your own devices ?' 

She hesitated, and began to speak with difficulty, 
her eyes on the ground. But by the time they were in 
the main Shanmoor path again, and she was not so 
weakly dependent on his physical aid, her spirits too 
returned. Pacing along with her hands behind her, 
she began by degrees to throw into her accounts of 
her various visits and performances plenty of her 
natural malice. 

And after a bit, as that strange storm of feeling 
which had assailed her on the mountain-top abated 
[ 486 ] 






GAIN AND LOSS 

something of its bewildering force, certain old griev- 
ances began to raise very lively heads in her. The 
smart of Lady Fauntleroy's ball was still there; she 
had not yet forgiven him all those relations; and the 
teasing image of Lady Florence woke up in her. 

'It seems to me/ he said at last drily, as he opened 
a gate for her not far from Burwood, 'that you have 
been making yourself agreeable to a vast number of 
people. In my new capacity of censor I should like 
to warn you that there is nothing so bad for the 
character as universal popularity/ 

'/ have not got a thousand and one important 
cousins ! ' she exclaimed, her lip curling. ' If I want to 
please, I must take pains, else "nobody minds me."' 

He looked at her attentively, his handsome face 
aglow with animation. 

'What can you mean by that?' he said slowly. 

But she was quite silent, her head well in air. 

'Cousins?' he repeated. 'Cousins? And clearly 
meant as a taunt at me ! Now when did you see my 
cousins? I grant that I possess a monstrous and in- 
defensible number. I have it. You think that at 
Lady Fauntleroy's ball I devoted myself too much 
to my family, and too little to - 

'Not at all !' cried Rose hastily, adding, with charm- 
ing incoherence, while she twisted a sprig of honey- 
suckle in her restless fingers. 'Some cousins of course 
are pretty.' 

He paused an instant; then a light broke over his 

face, and his burst of quiet laughter was infinitely 

pleasant to hear. Rose got redder and redder. She 

realised dimly that she was hardly maintaining the 

[ 487 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

spirit of their contract, and that he was studying her 
with eyes inconveniently bright and penetrating. 

'Shall I quote to you/ he said, 'a sentence of 
Sterne's? If it violate our contract I must plead ex- 
tenuating circumstances. Sterne is admonishing a 
young friend as to his manners in society: "You are 
in love," he says. "Tant mieux. But do not imagine 
that the fact bestows on you a licence to behave like 
a bear towards all the rest of the world. Affection 
may surely conduct thee through an avenue of women 
to her who possesses thy heart without tearing the flounces 
of any of their petticoats ' ' not even those of little 
cousins of seventeen ! I say this, you will observe, in 
the capacity you have assigned me. In another 
capacity I venture to think I could justify myself still 
better/ 

'My guardian and director/ cried Rose, 'must not 
begin his functions by misleading and sophistical 
quotations from the classics ! ' 

He did not answer for a moment. They were at the 
gate of Burwood, under a thick screen of wild cherry 
trees. The gate was half -open, and his hand was on it. 

'And my pupil/ he said, bending to her, 'must not 
begin by challenging the prisoner whose hands she 
has bound, or he will not answer for the consequences ! ' 

His words were threatening, but his voice, his fine 
expressive face, were infinitely sweet. By a kind of 
fascination she never afterwards understood, Rose 
for answer startled him and herself. She bent her 
head; she laid her lips on the hand which held the 
gate, and then she was through it in an instant. He 
followed her in vain. He never overtook her till at 
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GAIN AND LOSS 

the drawing-room door she paused with amazing 
dignity. 

'Mamma/ she said, throwing it open, 'here is Mr. 
Flaxman. He is come from Norway, and is on his 
way to Ullswater. I will go and speak to Margaret 
about tea.' 



CHAPTER XLVIII 

AFTER the little incident recorded at the end of the 
preceding chapter, Hugh Flaxman may be forgiven if, 
as he walked home along the valley that night towards 
the farmhouse where he had established himself, he 
entertained a very comfortable scepticism as to the 
permanence of that curious contract into which Rose 
had just forced him. However, he was quite mistaken. 
Rose's maiden dignity avenged itself abundantly on 
Hugh Flaxman for the injuries it had received at the 
hands of Langham. The restraints, the anomalies, the 
hairsplittings of the situation delighted her ingenuous 
youth. ' I am free he is free. We will be friends for 
six months. Possibly we may not suit one another at 
all. If we do then ' 

In the thrill of that then lay, of course, the whole 
attraction of the position. 

So that next morning Hugh Flaxman saw the 
comedy was to be scrupulously kept up. It required 
a tolerably strong masculine certainty at the bottom 
of him to enable him to resign himself once more to 
his part. But he achieved it, and being himself a 
modern of the moderns, a lover of half -shades and 
refinements of all sorts, he began very soon to enjoy 
it, and to play it with an increasing cleverness and 
perfection. 

How Rose got through Agnes's cross-questioning on 
the matter history sayeth not. Of one thing, however, 
[ 490 ] 






GAIN AND LOSS 

a conscientious historian may be sure, namely, that 
Agnes succeeded in knowing as much as she wanted 
to know. Mrs. Leyburn was a little puzzled by the 
erratic lines of Mr. Flaxman's journeys. It was, as 
she said, curious that a man should start on a tour 
through the Lakes from Long Whindale. 

But she took everything naively as it came, and as 
she was told. Nothing with her ever passed through 
any changing crucible of thought. It required no plan- 
ning to elude her. Her mind was like a stretch of wet 
sand, on which all impressions are equally easy to 
make and equally fugitive. He liked them all, she 
supposed, in spite of the comparative scantiness of 
his later visits to Lerwick Gardens, or he would not 
have come out of his way to see them. But as nobody 
suggested anything else to her, her mind worked no 
further, and she was as easily beguiled after his appear- 
ance as before it by the intricacies of some new 
knitting. 

Things of course might have been different if Mrs. 
Thornburgh had interfered again; but, as we know, 
poor Catherine's sorrows had raised a whole odd host 
of misgivings in the mind of the vicar's wife. She 
prowled nervously round Mrs. Leyburn, filled with 
contempt for her placidity; but she did not attack 
her. She spent herself, indeed, on Rose and Agnes, but 
long practice had made them adepts in the art of 
baffling her; and when Mr. Flaxman went to tea at 
the vicarage in their company, in spite of an absorb- 
ing desire to get at the truth, which caused her to 
forget a new cap, and let fall a plate of tea-cakes, she 
was obliged to confess crossly to the vicar afterwards 
[ 491 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

that no one could tell what a man like that was after. 
She supposed his manners were very aristocratic, but 
for her part she liked plain people. 

On the last morning of Mr. Flaxman's stay in the 
valley he entered the Burwood drive about eleven 
o'clock, and Rose came down the steps to meet him. 
For a moment he flattered himself that her disturbed 
looks were due to the nearness of their farewells. 

'There is something wrong/ he said, softly detaining 
her hand a moment so much, at least, was in his 
right. 

'Robert is ill. There has been an accident at Petites 
Dalles. He has been in bed for a week. They hope to 
get home in a few days. Catherine writes bravely, but 
she is evidently very low/ 

Hugh Flaxman's face fell. Certain letters he had 
received from Elsmere in July had lain heavy on his 
mind ever since, so pitiful was the half-conscious 
revelation in them of an incessant physical struggle. 
An accident! Elsmere was in no state for accidents. 
What miserable ill-luck ! 

Rose read him Catherine's account. It appeared 
that on a certain stormy day a swimmer had been 
observed in difficulties among the rocks skirting the 
northern side of the Petites Dalles bay. The old 
baigneur of the place, owner of the still primitive 
etablissement des bains, without stopping to strip, or 
even to take off his heavy boots, went out to the 
man in danger with a. plank. The man took the plank 
and was safe. Then to the people watching, it be- 
came evident that the baigneur himself was in peril. 
He became unaccountably feeble in the water, and 
[ 492 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

the cry rose that he was sinking. Robert, who hap- 
pened to be bathing near, ran off to the spot, jumped 
in, and swam out. By this time the old man had 
drifted some way. Robert succeeded, however, in 
bringing him in, and then, amid an excited crowd, 
headed by the baigneur's wailing family, they carried 
the unconscious form on to the higher beach. Els- 
mere was certain life was not extinct, and sent off for 
a doctor. Meanwhile no one seemed to have any 
common sense, or any knowledge of how to proceed, 
but himself. For two hours he stayed on the beach 
in his dripping bathing-clothes, a cold wind blowing, 
trying every device known to him: rubbing, hot 
bottles, artificial respiration. In vain. The man was 
too old and too bloodless. Directly after the doctor 
arrived he breathed his last, amid the wild and pas- 
sionate grief of wife and children. 

Robert, with a cloak flung about him, still stayed 
to talk to the doctor, to carry one of the baigneur's 
sobbing grandchildren to its mother in the village. 
Then, at last, Catherine got hold of him, and he sub- 
mitted to be taken home, shivering, and deeply de- 
pressed by the failure of his efforts. A violent gastric 
and lung chill declared itself almost immediately, and 
for three days he had been anxiously ill. Catherine, 
miserable, distrusting the local doctor, and not know- 
ing how to get hold of a better one, had never left him 
night or day. 'I had not the heart to write even to 
you,' she wrote to her mother. 'I could think of 
nothing but trying one thing after another. Now he 
has been in bed eight days, and is much better. He 
talks of getting up to-morrow, and declares he must 
[ 493 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

go home next week. I have tried to persuade him to 
stay here another fortnight, but the thought of his 
work distresses him so much that I hardly dare urge 
it. I cannot say how I dread the journey. He is not 
fit for it in any way/ 

Rose folded up the letter, her face softened to 
a most womanly gravity. Hugh Flaxman paused a 
moment outside the door, his hands on his sides, 
considering. 

'I shall not go on to Scotland/ he said; 'Mrs. Els- 
mere must not be left. I will go off there at once.' 

In Rose's soberly-sweet looks as he left her, Hugh 
Flaxman saw for an instant, with the stirring of a joy 
as profound as it was delicate, not the fanciful en- 
chantress of the day before, but his wife that was to 
be. And yet she held him to his bargain. All that 
his lips touched as he said good-bye was the little 
bunch of yellow briar roses she gave him from her 
belt. 

Thirty hours later he was descending the long hill 
from Sassetdt to Petites Dalles. It was the 1st of 
September. A chilly west wind blew up the dust be- 
fore him and stirred the parched leafage of the valley. 
He knocked at the door, of which the woodwork was 
all peeled and blistered by the sun. Catherine herself 
opened it. 

'This is kind this is like yourself!' she said, after 
a first stare of amazement, when he had explained 
himself. 'He is in there, much better.' 

Robert looked up, stupefied, as Hugh Flaxman 
entered. But he sprang up with his old brightness. 

'Well, this is friendship! What on earth brings you 
[ 494 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

here, old fellow? Why are n't you in the stubbles 
celebrating St. Partridge?' 

Hugh Flaxman said what he had to say very shortly, 
but so as to make Robert's eyes gleam, and to bring 
his thin hand with a sort of caressing touch upon 
Flaxman 's shoulder. 

' I shan't try to thank you Catherine can if she 
likes. How relieved she will be about that bothering 
journey of ours ! However, I am really ever so much 
better. It was very sharp while it lasted; and the 
doctor no great shakes. But there never was such a 
woman as my wife ; she pulled me through ! And now 
then, sir, just kindly confess yourself a little more 
plainly. What brought you and my sisters-in-law 
together? You need not try and persuade me that 
Long Whindale is the natural gate of the Lakes, or 
the route intended by Heaven from London to Scot- 
land, though I have no doubt you tried that little 
fiction on them.' 

Hugh Flaxman laughed, and sat down very 
deliberately. 

' I am glad to see that illness has not robbed you of 
that perspicacity for which you are so remarkable, 
Elsmere. Well, the day before yesterday I asked 
your sister Rose to marry me. She 

'Go on, man,' cried Robert, exasperated by his 
pause. 

'I don't know how to put it,' said Flaxman calmly. 
'For six months we are to be rather more than friends, 
and a good deal less than fiances. I am to be allowed 
to write to her. You may imagine how seductive it 
is to one of the worst and laziest letter-writers in the 
[ 495 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

three kingdoms that his fortunes in love should be 
made to depend on his correspondence. I may scold 
her if she gives me occasion. And in six months, as 
one says to a publisher, "the agreement will be open 
to revision. " 

Robert stared. 

'And you are not engaged?' 

'Not as I understand it/ replied Flaxman. 'De- 
cidedly not ! ' he added with energy, remembering that 
very platonic farewell. . 

Robert sat with his hands on his knees, ruminating. 

'A fantastic thing, the modern young woman ! Still 
I think I can understand. There may have been more 
than mere caprice in it/ 

His eye met his friend's significantly. 

'I suppose so/ said Flaxman quietly. Not even for 
Robert's benefit was he going to reveal any details of 
that scene on High Fell. 'Never mind, old fellow, I 
am content. And, indeed, faute de mieux, I should be 
content with anything that brought me nearer to her, 
were it but by the thousandth of an inch.' 

Robert grasped his hand affectionately, 

'Catherine/ he called through the door, 'never 
mind the supper; let it burn. Flaxman brings news.' 

Catherine listened to the story with amazement. 
Certainly her ways would never have been as her 
sister's. 

'Are we supposed to know?' she asked, very nat- 
urally. 

'She never forbade me to tell/ said Flaxman, smil- 
ing. 'I think, however, if I were you, I should say 
nothing about it yet. I told her it was part of our 
[ 496 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

bargain that she should explain my letters to Mrs. 
Ley burn. I gave her free leave to invent any fairy-tale 
she pleased, but it was to be her invention, not mine/ 

Neither Robert nor Catherine was very well pleased. 
But there was something reassuring as well as comic 
in the stoicism with which Flaxman took his position. 
And clearly the matter must be left to manage itself. 

Next morning the weather had improved. Robert, 
his hand on Flaxman's arm, got down to the beach. 
Flaxman watched him critically, did not like some of 
his symptoms, but thought on the whole he must be 
recovering at the normal rate, considering how severe 
the attack had been. 

'What do you think of him?' Catherine asked him 
next day, with all her soul in her eyes. They had left 
Robert established in a sunny nook, and were strolling 
on along the sands. 

' I think you must get him home, call in a first-rate 
doctor, and keep him quiet/ said Flaxman. 'He will 
be all right presently/ 

'How can we keep him quiet?' said Catherine, with 
a momentary despair in her fine pale face. 'All day 
long and all night long he is thinking of his work. It is 
like something fiery burning the heart out of him/ 

Flaxman felt the truth of the remark during the 
four days of calm autumn weather he spent with them 
before the return journey. Robert would talk to him 
for hours, now on the sands, with the grey infinity of 
sea before them, now pacing the bounds of their little 
room till fatigue made him drop heavily into his long 
chair ; and the burden of it all was the religious future 
of the working class. He described the scene in the 
[ 497 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

club, and brought out the dreams swarming in his 
mind, presenting them for Flaxman 's criticism, and 
dealing with them himself, with that startling mixture 
of acute common sense and eloquent passion which 
had always made him so effective as an initiator. 
Flaxman listened dubiously at first, as he generally 
listened to Elsmere, and then was carried away, not by 
the beliefs, but by the man. He found his pleasure in 
dallying with the magnificent possibility of the Church ; 
doubt with him applied to all propositions, whether 
positive or negative; and he had the dislike of the 
aristocrat and the cosmopolitan for the provincialisms 
of religious dissent. Political dissent or social reform 
was another matter. Since the Revolution, every 
generous child of the century has been open to the 
fascination of political or social Utopias. But religion ! 
What what is truth? Why not let the old things 
alone? 

However, it was through the social passion, once so 
real in him, and still living, in spite of disillusion and 
self-mockery, that Robert caught him, had in fact 
been slowly gaining possession of him all these months. 

'Well/ said Flaxman one day, 'suppose I grant 
you that Christianity of the old sort shows strong 
signs of exhaustion, even in England, and in spite of 
the Church expansion we hear so much about; and 
suppose I believe with you that things will go badly 
without religion what then? Who can have a re- 
ligion for the asking?'. 

'But who can have it without? Seek, that you may 
find. Experiment; try new combinations. If a thing 
is going that humanity can't do without, and you and 
[ 498 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

I believe it, what duty is more urgent for us than the 
effort to replace it?' 

Flaxman shrugged his shoulders. 

'What will you gain? A new sect?' 

'Possibly. But what we stand to gain is a new 
social bond/ was the flashing answer - 'a new com- 
pelling force in man and in society. Can you deny 
that the world wants it? What are you economists 
and sociologists of the new type always pining for? 
Why, for that diminution of the self in man which is 
to enable the individual to see the world's ends clearly, 
and to care not only for his own but for his neighbour's 
interest, which is to make the rich devote themselves 
to the poor, and the poor bear with the rich. If man 
only would, he could, you say, solve all the problems 
which oppress him. It is man's will which is eternally 
defective, eternally inadequate. Well, the great re- 
ligions of the world are the stimulants by which the 
power .?t the root of things has worked upon this 
sluggiL r ' instrument of human destiny. Without re- 
ligion you cannot make the will equal to its tasks. Our 
present religion fails us ; we must, we will have another ! ' 

He rose and began to pace along the sands, now 
gently glowing in the warm September evening, 
Flaxman beside him. 

A new religion! Of all words, the most tremendous ! 
Flaxman pitifully weighed against it the fraction of 
force fretting and surging in the thin elastic frame 
beside him. He knew well, however few better 
that the outburst was not a mere dream and emptiness. 
There was experience behind it a burning, driving 
experience of actual fact. 

[ 499 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Presently Robert said, with a change of tone, 'I 
must have that whole block of warehouses, Flaxman.' 

'Must you?' said Flaxman, relieved by the drop 
from speculation to the practical. 'Why?' 

'Look here!' And sitting down again on a sand- 
hill overgrown with wild grasses and mats of sea- 
thistle, the poor pale reformer began to draw out the 
details of his scheme on its material side. Three floors 
of rooms brightly furnished, well lit and warmed; a 
large hall for the Sunday lectures, concerts, enter- 
tainments, and story-telling; rooms for the boys' club ; 
two rooms for women and girls, reached by a separate 
entrance; a library and reading-room open to both 
sexes, well stored with books, and made beautiful by 
pictures ; three or four smaller rooms to serve as com- 
mittee rooms and for the purposes of the Naturalist 
Club which had been started in May on the Murewell 
plan ; and, if possible, a gymnasium. 

'Money!' he said, drawing up with a laugh in mid- 
career. 'There's the rub, of course. But I shall man- 
age it.' 

To judge from the past, Flaxman thought it ex- 
tremely likely that he would. He studied the cabalistic 
lines Elsmere's stick had made in the sand for a min- 
ute or two; then he said drily, 'I will take the first 
expense; and draw on me afterwards up to five hun- 
dred a year, for the first four years.' 

Robert turned upon him and grasped his hand. 

'I do not thank you,' he said quietly, after a mo- 
ment's pause; 'the work itself will do that.' 

Again they strolled on, talking, plunging into de- 
tails, till Flaxman 's pulse beat as fast as Robert's; so 
[ 500 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

full of infectious hope and energy was the whole being 
of the man before him. 

'I can take in the women and girls now/ Robert 
said once. 'Catherine has promised to superintend it 
all/ 

Then suddenly something struck the mobile mind, 
and he stood an instant looking at his companion. 
It was the first time he had mentioned Catherine's 
name in connexion with the North R work. Flax- 
man could not mistake the emotion, the unspoken 
thanks in those eyes. He turned away, nervously 
knocking off the ashes of his cigar. But the two men 
understood each other. 



CHAPTER XLIX 

Two days later they were in London again. Robert 
was a great deal better, and beginning to kick against 
invalid restraints. All men have their pet irration- 
alities. Elsmere's irrationality was an aversion to 
doctors, from the point of view of his own ailments. 
He had an unbounded admiration for them as a class, 
and would have nothing to say to them as individuals 
that he could possibly help. Flaxman was sarcastic; 
Catherine looked imploring in vain. He vowed that 
he was treating himself with a skill any professional 
might envy, and went his way. And for a time the 
stimulus of London and of his work seemed to act 
favourably upon him. After his first welcome at the 
club he came home with bright eye and vigorous step, 
declaring that he was another man. 

Flaxman established himself in St. James's Place. 
Town was deserted ; the partridges at Greenlaws clam- 
oured to be shot ; the head-keeper wrote letters which 
would have melted the heart of a stone. Flaxman re- 
plied recklessly that any decent fellow in the neigh- 
bourhood was welcome to shoot his birds a reply 
which almost brought upon him the resignation of the 
outraged keeper by return of post. Lady Charlotte 
wrote and remonstrated with him for neglecting a 
landowner's duties, inquiring at the same time what 
he meant to do with regard to 'that young lady/ 
To which Flaxman replied calmly that he had just 
[ 502 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

come back from the Lakes, where he had done, not 
indeed all that he meant to do, but still something. 
Miss Leyburn and he were not engaged, but he was 
on probation for six months, and found London the 
best place for getting through it. 

'So far/ he said, 'I am getting on well, and develop- 
ing an amount of energy especially in the matter of 
correspondence, which alone ought to commend the 
arrangement to the relations of an idle man. But we 
must be left "to dream our dream unto ourselves 
alone." One word from anybody belonging to me to 
anybody belonging to her on the subject, and But 
threats are puerile. For the present, dear aunt, I am 
your devoted nephew, HUGH FLAXMAN.' 

'On probation!' 

Flaxman chuckled as he sent off the letter. 

He stayed because he was too restless to be any- 
where else, and because he loved the Elsmeres for 
Rose's sake and his own. He thought moreover that 
a cool-headed friend with an eye for something else 
in the world than religious reform might be useful 
just then to Elsmere, and he was determined at the 
same time to see what the reformer meant to be at. 

In the first place, Robert's attention was directed 
to getting possession of the whole block of buildings, 
in which the existing school- and lecture-rooms took 
up only the lowest floor. This was a matter of some 
difficulty, for the floors above were employed in ware- 
housing goods belonging to various minor import 
trades, and were held on tenures of different lengths. 
[ 503 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

However, by dint of some money and much skill, the 
requisite clearances were effected during September 
and part of October. By the end of that month all 
but the top floor, the tenant of which refused to be 
dislodged, fell into Elsmere's hands. 

Meanwhile, at a meeting held every Sunday after 
lecture a meeting composed mainly of artisans of 
the district, but including also Robert's helpers from 
the West, and a small sprinkling of persons interested 
in the man and his work from all parts the details 
of 'The New Brotherhood of Christ' were being ham- 
mered out. Catherine was generally present, sitting 
a little apart, with a look which Flaxman, who now 
knew her well, was always trying to decipher afresh 
- a sort of sweet aloofness, as though the spirit be- 
hind it saw, down the vistas of the future, ends and 
solutions which gave it courage to endure the present. 
Murray Edwardes too was always there. It often 
struck Flaxman afterwards that in Robert's attitude 
towards Edwardes at this time, in his constant desire 
to bring him forward, to associate him with himself 
as much as possible in the government and formation 
of the infant society, there was a half -conscious pre- 
science of a truth that as yet none knew, not even the 
tender wife, the watchful friend. 

The meetings were of extraordinary interest. The 
men, the great majority of whom had been disciplined 
and moulded for months by contact with Elsmere's 
teaching and Elsmere's thought, showed a responsive- 
ness, a receptivity, even a power of initiation which 
often struck Flaxman with wonder. Were these the 
men he had seen in the club-hall on the night of 
[ 504 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

Robert's address sour, stolid, brutalised, hostile to 
all things in heaven and earth? 

'And we go on prating that the age of saints is 
over, the role of the individual lessening day by day ! 
Fool! go and be a saint, go and give yourself to 
ideas; go and live the life hid with Christ in God, 
and see/ so would run the quick comment of the 
observer. 

But incessant as was the reciprocity, the inter- 
change and play of feeling between Robert and the 
wide following growing up around him, it was plain 
to Flaxman that although he never moved a step 
without carrying his world with him, he was never at 
the mercy of his world. Nothing was ever really left 
to chance. Through all these strange debates, which 
began rawly and clumsily enough, and grew every 
week more and more absorbing to all concerned, Flax- 
man was convinced that hardly any rule or formula 
of the new society was ultimately adopted which had 
not been for long in Robert's mind thought out 
and brought into final shape, perhaps, on the Petites 
Dalles sands. It was an unobtrusive art, his art of 
government, but a most effective one. 

At any moment, as Flaxman often felt, at any rate 
in the early meetings, the discussions as to the religious 
practices which were to bind together the new asso- 
ciation might have passed the line, and become puerile 
or grotesque. At any moment the jarring characters 
and ambitions of the men Elsmere had to deal with 
might have dispersed that delicate atmosphere of 
moral sympathy and passion in which the whole new 
birth seemed to have been conceived, and upon the 
[ 505 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

maintenance of which its fruition and development 
depended. But as soon as Elsmere appeared, dif- 
ficulties vanished, enthusiasm sprang up again. The 
rules of the new society came simply and naturally 
into being, steeped and haloed, as it were, from the 
beginning, in the passion and genius of one great 
heart. The fastidious critical instinct in Flaxman was 
silenced no less than the sour, half -educated analysis 
of such a man as Lestrange. 

In the same way all personal jars seemed to melt 
away beside him. There were some painful things 
connected with the new departure. Wardlaw, for in- 
stance, a conscientious Comtist, refusing stoutly to 
admit anything more than 'an unknowable reality 
behind phenomena/ was distressed and affronted by 
the strongly religious bent Elsmere was giving to the 
work he had begun. Lestrange, who was a man of 
great though raw ability, who almost always spoke at 
the meetings, and whom Robert was bent on attach- 
ing to the society, had times when the things he 
was half -inclined to worship one day he was much 
more inclined to burn the next in the sight of all 
men, and when the smallest failure of temper on 
Robert's part might have entailed a disagreeable 
scene, and the possible formation of a harassing 
left wing. 

But Robert's manner to Wardlaw was that of a 
grateful younger brother. It was clear that the Com- 
tist could not formally join the Brotherhood. But all 
the share and influence that could be secured him 
in the practical working of it was secured him. And 
what was more, Robert succeeded in infusing his own 
[ 506 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

delicacy, his own compunctions on the subject, into 
the men and youths who had profited in the past by 
Wardlaw's rough self-devotion. So that if, through 
much that went on now, he could only be a spectator, 
at least he was not allowed to feel himself an alien 
or forgotten. 

As to Lestrange, against a man who was as ready 
to laugh as to preach, and into whose ardent soul 
Nature had infused a saving sense of the whimsical 
in life and character, cynicism and vanity seemed to 
have no case. Robert's quick temper had been won- 
derfully disciplined by life since his Oxford days. He 
had now very little of that stiff -neckedness, so fatal 
to the average reformer, which makes a man insist 
on all or nothing from his followers. He took what 
each man had to give. Nay, he made it almost seem 
as though the grudging support of Lestrange, or the 
critical half -patronising approval of the young bar- 
rister from the West who came down to listen to him, 
and made a favour of teaching in his night-school, 
were as precious to him as was the whole-hearted, 
the self -abandoning veneration, which the majority of 
those about him had begun to show towards the man 
in whom, as Charles Richards said, they had 'seen 
God/ 

At last by the middle of November the whole great 
building, with the exception of the top floor, was 
cleared and ready for use. Robert felt the same joy 
in it, in its clean paint, the half -filled shelves in the 
library, the pictures standing against the walls ready 
to be hung, the rolls of bright-coloured matting ready 
to be laid down, as he had felt in the Murewell In- 
[ 507 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

stitute. He and Flaxman, helped by a voluntary army 
of men, worked at it from morning till night. Only 
Catherine could ever persuade him to remember that 
he was not yet physically himself. 

Then came the day when the building was formally 
opened, when the gilt letters over the door, ' The New 
Brotherhood of Christ/ shone out into the dingy 
street, and when the first enrolment of names in the 
book of the Brotherhood took place. 

For two hours a continuous stream of human beings 
surrounded the little table beside which Elsmere stood, 
inscribing their names, and receiving from him the 
silver badge, bearing the head of Christ, which was to 
be the outward and conspicuous sign of membership. 
Men came of all sorts : the intelligent well-paid artisan, 
the pallid clerk or small accountant, stalwart ware- 
housemen, huge carters and draymen, the boy attached 
to each by the laws of the profession often straggling 
lumpishly behind his master. Women were there: 
wives who came because their lords came, or because 
Mr. Elsmere had been 'that good' to them that any- 
thing they could do to oblige him 'they would, and 
welcome'; prim pupil-teachers, holding themselves 
with straight superior shoulders; children, who came 
trooping in, grinned up into Robert's face and re- 
treated again with red cheeks, the silver badge tight 
clasped in hands which not even much scrubbing 
could make passable. 

Flaxman stood and watched it from the side. 
It was an extraordinary scene: the crowd, the 
slight figure on the platform, the two great in- 
scriptions, which represented the only 'articles' of 
[ 508 ] 






GAIN AND LOSS 

the new faith, gleaming from the freshly-coloured 
walls 

'In Thee, Eternal, have I put my trust'', 
' This do in remembrance of Me'; 

the recesses on either side of the hall lined with 
white marble, and destined, the one to hold the names 
of the living members of the Brotherhood, the other 
to commemorate those who had passed away (empty 
this last save for the one poor name of ' Charles Rich- 
ards ') ; the copies of Giotto's Paduan Virtues faith, 
fortitude, charity, and the like which broke the 
long wall at intervals. The cynic in the onlooker tried 
to assert itself against the feeling with which the air 
seemed overcharged. In vain. 

' Whatever comes of it/ Flaxman said to himself 
with strong involuntary conviction, 'whether he fails 
or no, the spirit that is moving here is the same spirit 
that spread the Church, the spirit that sent out Bene- 
dictine and Franciscan into the world, that fired the 
children of Luther, or Calvin, or George Fox ; the spirit 
of devotion, through a man, to an idea; through one 
much-loved, much-trusted soul to some eternal verity, 
newly caught, newly conceived, behind it. There is no 
approaching the idea for the masses except through 
the human life ; there is no lasting power for the man 
except as the slave of the idea!' 

A week later he wrote to his aunt as follows. He 
could not write to her of Rose, he did not care to 
write of himself, and he knew that Elsmere's club 
address had left a mark even on her restless and over- 
crowded mind. Moreover, he himself was absorbed, 
are in the full stream of religion-making. I 
[ 509 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

watch it with a fascination you at a distance cannot 
possibly understand, even when my judgement de- 
murs, and my intelligence protests that the thing 
cannot live without Elsmere, and that Elsmere's life 
is a frail one. After the ceremony of enrolment which 
I described to you yesterday the Council of the New 
Brotherhood was chosen by popular election, and Els- 
mere gave an address. Two thirds of the council, I 
should think, are workingmen, the rest of the upper 
class ; Elsmere, of course, president. 

'Since then the first religious service under the new 
constitution has been held. The service is extremely 
simple, and the basis of the whole is "new bottles for 
the new wine." The opening prayer is recited by 
everybody present standing. It is rather an act of 
adoration and faith than a prayer, properly so called. 
It represents, in fact, the placing of the soul in the 
presence of God. The mortal turns to the eternal; 
the ignorant and imperfect look away from themselves 
to the knowledge and perfection of the All-Holy. It 
is Elsmere's drawing-up, I imagine at any rate it 
is essentially modern, expressing the modern spirit, 
answering to modern need, as I imagine the first 
Christian prayers expressed the spirit and answered 
to the need of an earlier day. 

'Then follows some passage from the life of Christ. 
Elsmere reads it and expounds it, in the first place, 
as a lecturer might expound a passage of Tacitus, 
historically and critically. His explanation of miracle, 
his efforts to make his audience realise the germs of 
miraculous belief which each man carries with him in 
the constitution and inherited furniture of his mind, 
[ 510 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

are some of the most ingenious perhaps the most 
convincing I have ever heard. My heart and my 
head have never been very much at one, as you know, 
on this matter of the marvellous element in religion. 

'But then when the critic has done, the poet and 
the believer begins. Whether he has got hold of the 
true Christ is another matter; but that the Christ he 
preaches moves the human heart as much as and 
in the case of the London artisan, more than the 
current orthodox presentation of him, I begin to have 
ocular demonstration. 

'I was present, for instance, at his children's Sunday 
class the other day. He had brought them up to the 
story of the Crucifixion, reading from the Revised 
Version, and amplifying wherever the sense required 
it. Suddenly a little girl laid her head on the desk 
before her, and with choking sobs implored him not 
to go on. The whole class seemed ready to do the 
same. The pure human pity of the story the con- 
trast between the innocence and the pain of the 
sufferer seemed to be more than they could bear. 
And there was no comforting sense of a jugglery by 
which the suffering was not real after all, and the 
sufferer not man but God. 

'He took one of them upon his knee and tried to 
console them. But there is something piercingly pene- 
trating and austere even in the consolations of this 
new faith. He did but remind the children of the 
burden of gratitude laid upon them. "Would you let 
him suffer so much in vain? His suffering has made 
you and me happier and better to-day, at this moment, 
than we could have been without Jesus. You will 
[ 511 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

understand how, and why, more clearly when you 
grow up. Let us in return keep him in our hearts 
always, and obey his words! It is all you can do for 
his sake, just as all you could do for a mother who 
died would be to follow her wishes and sacredly keep 
her memory." 

'That was about the gist of it. It was a strange 
little scene, wonderfully suggestive and pathetic. 

'But a few more words about the Sunday service. 
After the address came a hymn. There are only seven 
hymns in the little service-book, gathered out of the 
finest we have. It is supposed that in a short time 
they will become so familiar to the members of the 
Brotherhood that they will be sung readily by heart. 
The singing of them in the public service alternates 
with an equal number of psalms. And both psalms 
and hymns are meant to be recited or sung constantly 
in the homes of the members, and to become part of 
the everyday life of the Brotherhood. They have been 
most carefully chosen, and a sort of ritual importance 
has been attached to them from the beginning. Each 
day in the week has its particular hymn or psalm. 

'Then the whole wound up with another short 
prayer, also repeated standing, a commendation of 
the individual, the Brotherhood, the nation, the world, 
to God. The phrases of it are terse and grand. One 
can see at once that it has laid hold of the popular 
sense, the popular memory. The Lord's Prayer fol- 
lowed. Then, after a silent pause of "recollection," 
Elsmere dismissed them. 

' "Go in peace, in the love of God, and in the memory 
of His servant, Jesus." 

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GAIN AND LOSS 

' I looked carefully at the men as they were tramping 
out. Some of them were among the Secularist speakers 
you and I heard at the club in April. In my wonder, 
I thought of a saying of Vinet's: "C'est pour la re- 
ligion que le peuple a le plus de talent; c'est en religion 
qu'il montre le plus d' esprit." 

In a later letter he wrote: 

'I have not yet described to you what is perhaps 
the most characteristic, the most binding practice of 
the New Brotherhood. It is that which has raised 
most angry comment, cries of "profanity," "wanton 
insult/' and what not. I came upon it yesterday in 
an interesting way. I was working with Elsmere at 
the arrangement of the library, which is now becoming 
a most fascinating place, under the management of a 
librarian chosen from the neighbourhood, when he 
asked me to go and take a message to a carpenter 
who has been giving us voluntary help in the evenings 
after his day's work. He thought that as it was the 
dinner hour, and the man worked in the dock close 
by, I might find him at home. I went off to the 
model lodging-house where I was told to look for him, 
mounted the common stairs, and knocked at his door. 
Nobody seemed to hear me, and as the door was ajar 
I pushed it open. 

' Inside was a curious sight. 

'The table was spread with the midday meal. 
Round the table stood four children, the eldest about 
fourteen, and the youngest six or seven. At one 
end of it stood the carpenter himself in his work- 
ing apron, a brawny Saxon, bowed a little by his 
trade. Before him was a plate of bread, and his horny 
[ 513 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

hands were resting on it. The street was noisy ; they 
had not heard my knock; and as I pushed open the 
door there was an old coat hanging over the corner 
of it which concealed me. 

'Something in the attitudes of all concerned re- 
minded me, kept me where I was, silent. 

'The father lifted his right hand. 

'"The Master said, 'This do in remembrance of 
Me!'" 

'The children stooped for a moment in silence, then 
the youngest said slowly, in a little softened cockney 
voice that touched me extraordinarily, - 

'"Jesus, we remember Thee always!" 

'It was the appointed response. As she spoke 
I recollected the child perfectly at Elsmere's class. I 
also remembered that she had no mother; that her 
mother had died of cancer in June, visited and com- 
forted to the end by Elsmere and his wife. 

' Well, the great question of course remains is 
there a sufficient strength of feeling and conviction 
behind these things? If so, after all, everything was 
new once, and Christianity was but modified Judaism/ 

'December 22. 

'I believe I shall soon be as deep in this matter as 
Elsmere. In Elgood Street great preparations are 
going on for Christmas. But it will be a new sort 
of Christmas. We shall hear very little, it seems, of 
angels and shepherds, and a great deal of the humble 
childhood of a little Jewish boy whose genius grown 
to maturity transformed the Western world. To see 
Elsmere, with his boys and girls about him, trying to 
[ 514 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

make them feel themselves the heirs and fellows of 
the Nazarene child, to make them understand some- 
thing of the lessons that child must have learnt, the 
sights he must have seen, and the thoughts that must 
have come to him, is a spectacle of which I will not 
miss more than I can help. Don't imagine, however, 
that I am converted exactly ! but only that I am 
more interested and stimulated than I have been for 
years. And don't expect me for Christmas. I shall 
stay here/ 

'New Year's Day. 

' I am writing from the library of the New Brother- 
hood. The amount of activity, social, educational, 
religious, of which this great building promises to be 
the centre is already astonishing. Everything, of 
course including the constitution of the infant society, 
is as yet purely tentative and experimental. But for a 
scheme so young, things are falling into working order 
with wonderful rapidity. Each department is worked 
by committees under the central council. Elsmere, of 
course, is ex-officio chairman of a large proportion ; 
Wardlaw, Mackay, I, and a few other fellows "run" 
the rest for the present. But each committee contains 
workingmen; and it is the object of everybody con- 
cerned to make the workman element more and more 
real and efficient. What with the "tax" on the mem- 
bers which was fixed by a general meeting, and the 
contributions from outside, the society already com- 
mands a fair income. But Elsmere is anxious not to 
attempt too much at once, and will go slowly and train 
his workers. 

[ 515 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Music, it seems, is to be a great feature in the future. 
I have my own projects as to this part of the business, 
which, however, I forbid you to guess at. 

' By the rules of the Brotherhood, every member is 
bound to some work in connexion with it during the 
year, but little or much, as he or she is able. And 
every meeting, every undertaking of whatever kind, 
opens with the special "word" or formula of the 
society, "This do in remembrance of Me." 

' January 6. 

'Besides the Sunday lectures, Elsmere is pegging 
away on Saturday evenings at "The History of the 
Moral Life in Man." It is a remarkable course, and 
very largely attended by people of all sorts. He tries 
to make it an exposition of the leading principles of 
the new movement, of "that continuous and only 
revelation of God in life and Nature," which is in 
reality the basis of his whole thought. By the way, 
the letters that are pouring in upon him from all parts 
are extraordinary. They show an amount and degree 
of interest in ideas of the kind which are surprising 
to a Laodicean like me. But he is not surprised - 
says he always expected it and that there are 
thousands who only want a rallying-point. 

' His personal effect, the love that is felt for him, the 
passion and energy of the nature never has our 
generation seen anything to equal it. As you perceive, 
I am reduced to taking it all seriously, and don't know 
what to make of him or myself. 

'She, poor soul! is now always with him, comes 
down with him day after day, and works away. She 
[ 516 ] 



! 



GAIN AND LOSS 

no more believes in his ideas, I think, than she ever 
did; but all her antagonism is gone. In the midst of 
the stir about him her face often haunts me. It has 
changed lately ; she is no longer a young woman, but 
so refined, so spiritual ! 

' But he is ailing and fragile. There is the one cloud 
on a scene that fills me with increasing wonder and 
reverence/ 



CHAPTER L 

ONE cold Sunday afternoon in January, Flaxman, 
descending the steps of the New Brotherhood, was 
overtaken by a young Dr. Edmondson, an able young 
physician, just set up for himself as a consultant, who 
had only lately attached himself to Elsmere, and was 
now helping him with eagerness to organise a dis- 
pensary. Young Edmondson and Flaxman exchanged 
a few words on Elsmere's lecture, and then the doctor 
said abruptly, - 

'I don't like his looks nor his voice. How long has 
he been hoarse like that?' 

'More or less for the last month. He is very much 
worried by it himself, and talks of clergyman's throat. 
He had a touch of it, it appears, once in the country.' 

' Clergyman's throat?' Edmondson shook his head 
dubiously. ' It may be. I wish he would let me over- 
haul him.' 

'I wish he would!' said Flaxman devoutly/ 'I will 
see what I can do. I will get hold of Mrs. Elsmere.' 

Meanwhile Robert and Catherine had driven home 
together. As they entered the study she caught his 
hands, a suppressed and exquisite passion gleaming 
in her face. 

'You did not explain Him! You never will!' 

He stood, held by her, his gaze meeting hers. Then 
in an instant his face changed, blanched before her - 
he seemed to gasp for breath she was only just able 
[ 518 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

to save him from falling. It was apparently another 
swoon of exhaustion. As she knelt beside him on the 
floor, having done for him all she could, watching his 
return to consciousness, Catherine's look would have 
terrified any of those who loved her. There are some 
natures which are never blind, never taken blissfully 
unawares, and which taste calamity and grief to the 
very dregs. 

'Robert, to-morrow you will see a doctor?' she im- 
plored him when at last he was safely in bed white, 
but smiling. 

He nodded. 

'Send for Edmondson. What I mind most is this 
hoarseness/ he said, in a voice that was little more 
than a tremulous whisper. 

Catherine hardly closed her eyes all night. The 
room, the house, seemed to her stifling, oppressive, 
like a grave. And, by ill luck, with the morning came 
a long expected letter, not indeed from the squire, 
but about the squire. Robert had been for some time 
expecting a summons to Murewell. The squire had 
written to him last in October from Clarens, on the 
Lake of Geneva. Since then weeks had passed without 
bringing Elsmere any news of him at all. Meanwhile 
the growth of the New Brotherhood had absorbed its 
founder, so that the inquiries which should have been 
sent to Murewell had been postponed. The letter 
which reached him now was from old Meyrick. 'The 
squire has had another bad attack, and is much weaker. 
But his mind is clear again, and he greatly desires to 
see you. If you can, come to-morrow/ 

'His mind is clear again!' Horrified by the words 
[ 519 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

and by the images they called up, remorseful also for 
his own long silence, Robert sprang up from bed, 
where the letter had been brought to him, and pre- 
sently appeared downstairs, where Catherine, believ- 
ing him safely captive for the morning, was going 
through some household business. 

'I must go, I must go !' he said, as he handed her the 
letter. 'Meyrick puts it cautiously, but it may be 
the end!' 

Catherine looked at him in despair. 

'Robert, you are like a ghost yourself, and I have 
sent for Dr. Edmondson/ 

'Put him off till the day after to-morrow. Dear 
little wife, listen; my voice is ever so much better. 
Mure well air will do me good/ She turned away to 
hide the tears in her eyes. Then she tried fresh per- 
suasions, but it was useless. His look was glowing and 
restless. She saw he felt it a call impossible to disobey. 
A telegram was sent to Edmondson, and Robert drove 
off to Waterloo. 

Out of the fog of London it was a mild, sunny 
winter's day. Robert breathed more freely with every 
mile. His eyes took note of every landmark in the 
familiar journey with a thirsty eagerness. It was a 
year and a half since he had travelled it. He forgot 
his weakness, the exhausting pressure and publicity 
of his new work. The past possessed him, thrust out 
the present. Surely he had been up to London for the 
day and was going back to Catherine ! 

At the station he hailed an old friend among the 
cabmen. 

'Take me to the corner of Murewell lane, Tom. 
[ 520 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

Then you may drive on my bag to the Hall, and I shall 
walk over the common/ 

The man urged on his tottering old steed with a will. 
In the streets of the little town Robert saw several 
acquaintances who stopped and stared at the appari- 
tion. Were the houses, the people real, or was it all 
a hallucination his flight and his return, so un- 
thought of yesterday, so easy and swift to-day? 

By the time they were out on the wild ground be- 
tween the market-town and Murewell, Robert's spirits 
were as buoyant as thistle-down. He and the driver 
kept up an incessant gossip over the neighbourhood, 
and he jumped down from the carriage as the man 
stopped with the alacrity of a boy. 

'Go on, Tom; see if I am not there as soon as you/ 

'Looks most uncommon bad/ the man muttered 
to himself as his horse shambled off. 'Seems as spry 
as a lark all the same/ 

Why, the gorse was out, positively out in January ! 
and the thrushes were singing as though it were March. 
Robert stopped opposite a bush covered with timid 
half -opened blooms, and thought he had seen nothing 
.so beautiful since he had last trodden that road in 
spring. Presently he was in the same cart-track he 
had crossed on the night of his confession to Catherine ; 
he lingered beside the same solitary fir on the brink 
of the ridge. A winter world lay before him; soft 
brown woodland, or reddish heath and fern, struck 
sideways by the sun, clothing the earth's bareness 
everywhere curling mists blue points of distant 
hill a grey luminous depth of sky. 

The eyes were moist, the lips moved. There in the 
[ 521 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

place of his old anguish he stood and blessed God ! 
not for any personal happiness, but simply for that 
communication of Himself which may make every 
hour of common living a revelation. 

Twenty minutes later, leaving the park gate to his 
left, he hurried up the lane leading to the vicarage. 
One look! he might not be able to leave the squire 
later. The gate of the wood-path was ajar. Surely 
just inside it he should find Catherine in her garden 
hat, the white-frocked child dragging behind her! 
And there was the square stone house, the brown corn- 
field, the red-brown woods ! Why, what had the man 
been doing with the study? White blinds showed it 
was a bedroom now. Vandal ! Besides, how could the 
boys have free access except to that ground-floor 
room? And all that pretty stretch of grass under the 
acacia had been cut up into stiff little lozenge-shaped 
beds, filled, he supposed, in summer with the properest 
geraniums. He should never dare to tell that to 
Catherine. 

He stood and watched the little significant signs of 
change in this realm, which had been once his own, 
with a dissatisfied mouth, his undermind filled the 
while with tempestuous yearning and affection. In 
that upper room he had lain through that agonised 
night of crisis; the dawn-twitterings of the summer 
birds seemed to be still in his ears. And there, in the 
distance, was the blue wreath of smoke hanging over 
Mile End. Ah ! the new cottages must be warm this 
winter. The children did not lie in the wet any longer 
- thank God ! Was there time just to run down to 
Irwin's cottage, to have a look at the Institute? 
[ 522 1 



GAIN AND LOSS 

He had been standing on the farther side of the 
road from the rectory that he might not seem to be 
spying out the land and his successor's ways too 
closely. Suddenly he found himself clinging to a gate 
near him that led into a field. He was shaken by a 
horrible struggle for breath. The self seemed to be 
foundering in a stifling sea, and fought like a drowning 
thing. When the moment passed, he looked round 
him bewildered, drawing his hand across his eyes. The 
world had grown black the sun seemed to be 
scarcely shining. Were those the sounds of children's 
voices on the hill, the rumbling of a cart or was it 
all, sight and sound alike, mirage and delirium? 

With difficulty, leaning on his stick as though he 
were a man of seventy, he groped his way back to 
the Park. There he sank down, still gasping, among 
the roots of one of the great cedars near the gate. 
After a while the attack passed off and he found him- 
self able to walk on. But the joy, the leaping pulse 
of half an hour ago, were gone from his veins. Was 
that the river the house? He looked at them with 
dull eyes. All the light was lowered. A veil seemed to 
lie between him and the familiar things. 

However, by the time he reached the door of the 
Hall will and nature had reasserted themselves, and 
he knew where he was and what he had to do. 

Vincent flung the door open with his old lordly air. 

'Why, sir! Mr. Elsmere!' 

The butler's voice began on a note of joyful surprise, 
sliding at once into one of alarm. He stood and stared 
at this ghost of the old rector. 

Elsmere grasped his hand, and asked him to take 
[ 523 ] 






ROBERT ELSMERE 

him into the dining-room and give him some wine 
before announcing him. Vincent ministered to him 
with a long face, pressing all the alcoholic resources 
of the Hall upon him in turn. The squire was much 
better, he declared, and had been carried down to the 
library. 

'But, lor, sir, there ain't much to be said for your 
looks neither seems as if London did n't suit you, sir/ 

Elsmere explained feebly that he had been suffering 
from his throat, and had overtired himself by walking 
over the common. Then, recognising from a distorted 
vision of himself in a Venetian mirror hanging by that 
something of his natural colour had returned to him, 
he rose and bade Vincent announce him. 

'And Mrs. Darcy?' he asked, as they stepped out 
into the hall again. 

'Oh, Mrs. Darcy, sir, she's very well,' said the man, 
but, as it seemed to Robert, with something of an 
embarrassed air. 

He followed Vincent down the long passage - 
haunted by old memories, by the old sickening sense 
of mental anguish to the curtained door. Vincent 
ushered him in. There was a stir of feet, and a voice, 
but at first he saw nothing. The room was very much 
darkened. Then Meyrick emerged into distinctness. 

'Squire, here is Mr. Elsmere! Well, Mr. Elsmere, 
sir, I'm sure we're very much obliged to you for 
meeting the squire's wishes so promptly. You'll find 
him poorly, Mr. Elsmere, but mending oh yes, 
mending, sir no doubt of it.' 

Elsmere began to perceive a figure by the fire. A 
bony hand was advanced to him out of the gloom. 
( 524 ] 






GAIN AND LOSS 

'That'll do, Meyrick. You won't be wanted till the 
evening.' 

The imperious note in the voice struck Robert with 
a sudden sense of relief. After all, the squire was still 
capable of trampling on Meyrick. 

In another minute the door had closed on the old 
doctor, and the two men were alone. Robert was be- 
ginning to get used to the dim light. Out of it the 
squire's face gleamed almost as whitely as the tortured 
marble of the Medusa just above their heads. 

'It's some inflammation in the eyes,' the squire ex- 
plained briefly, 'that's made Meyrick set up all this 
d d business of blinds and shutters. I don't mean to 
stand it much longer. The eyes are better, and I prefer 
to see my way out of the world, if possible.' 

'But you are recovering?' Robert said, laying his 
hand affectionately on the old man's knee. 

'I have added to my knowledge,' said the squire 
drily. 'Like Heine, I am qualified to give lectures in 
heaven on the ignorance of doctors on earth. And I 
am not in bed, which I was last week. For Heaven's 
sake, don't ask questions. If there is a loathsome 
subject on earth it is the subject of the human body. 
Well, I suppose my message to you dragged you away 
from a thousand things you had rather be doing. 
What are you so hoarse for? Neglecting yourself as 
usual, for the sake of "the people," who would n't 
even subscribe to bury you? Have you been working 
up the Apocrypha as I recommended you last time 
we met?' 

Robert smiled. 

'For the last four months, Squire, I have been doing 
[ 525 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

two things with neither of which had you much sym- 
pathy in old days holiday-making and "slumming." ' 

'Oh, I remember/ interrupted the squire hastily. 
'I was low last week, and read the Church papers by 
way of a counter-irritant. You have been starting a 
new religion, I see. A new religion! Humph!' 

The great head fell forward, and through the dusk 
Robert caught the sarcastic gleam of the eyes. 

'You are hardly the man to deny/ he said, undis- 
turbed, 'that the old ones laissent a desirer.' 

'Because there are old abuses, is that any reason 
why you should go and set up a brand-new one? - 
an ugly anachronism besides/ retorted the squire. 
' However, you and I have no common ground never 
had. I say know, you say feel. Where is the difference, 
after all, between you and any charlatan of the lot? 
-Well, how is Madame de Netteville?' 

'I have not seen her for six months/ Robert re- 
plied, with equal abruptness. 

The squire laughed a little under his breath. 

'What did you think of her?' 

'Very much what you told me to think intellect- 
ually/ replied Robert, facing him, but flushing with 
the readiness of physical delicacy. 

'Well, I certainly never told you to think anything 
- morally,' said the squire. 'The word moral has no 
relation to her. Whom did you see there?' 

The catechism was naturally most distasteful to its 
object, but Elsmere went through with it, the squire 
watching him for a while with an expression which 
had a spark of malice in it. It is not unlikely that 
some gossip of the Lady Aubrey sort had reached him. 
[ 526 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

Elsmere had always seemed to him oppressively good. 
The idea that Madame de Netteville had tried her arts 
upon him was not without its piquancy. 

But while Robert was answering a question he was 
aware of a subtle change in the squire's attitude a 
relaxation of his own sense of tension. After a minute 
he bent forward, peering through the darkness. The 
squire's head had fallen back, his mouth was slightly 
open, and the breath came lightly, quiveringly through. 
The cynic of a moment ago had dropped suddenly 
into a sleep of more than childish weakness and de- 
fencelessness. 

Robert remained bending forward, gazing at the 
man who had once meant so much to him. 

Strange white face, sunk in the great chair ! Behind 
it glimmered the Donatello figure, and the divine 
Hermes, a glorious shape in the dusk, looking scorn 
on human decrepitude. All round spread the dim 
walls of books. The life they had nourished was drop- 
ping into the abyss out of ken they remained. 
Sixty years of effort and slavery to end so a river 
lost in the sands! 

Old Meyrick stole in again, and stood looking at the 
sleeping squire. 

'A bad sign! a bad sign!' he said, and shook his 
head mournfully. 

After he had made an effort to take some food which 
Vincent pressed upon him, Robert, conscious of a 
stronger physical malaise than had ever yet tormented 
him, was crossing the hall again, when he suddenly 
saw Mrs. Darcy at the door of a room which opened 
into the hall. He went up to her with a warm greeting. 
[ 527 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

'Are you going in to the squire? Let us go together.' 

She looked at him with no surprise, as though she 
had seen him the day before, and as he spoke she re- 
treated a step into the room behind her, a curious film, 
so it seemed to him, darkening her small grey eyes. 

'The squire is not here. He is gone away. Have you 
seen my white mice? Oh, they are such darlings! Only, 
one of them is ill, and they won't let me have the doctor/ 

Her voice sank into the most pitiful plaintiveness. 
She stood in the middle of the room, pointing with an 
elfish finger to a large cage of white mice which stood 
in the window. The room seemed full besides of 
other creatures. Robert stood rooted, looking at the 
tiny withered figure in the black dress, its snowy hair 
and diminutive face swathed in lace, with a per- 
plexity into which there slipped an involuntary shiver. 
Suddenly he became aware of a woman by the fire, 
a decent, strong-looking body in grey, who rose as his 
look turned to her. Their eyes met; her expression 
and the little jerk of her head towards Mrs. Darcy, who 
was now standing by the cage coaxing the mice with 
the weirdest gestures, were enough. Robert turned, 
and went out sick at heart. The careful exquisite 
beauty of the great hall struck him as something 
mocking and anti-human. 

No one else in the house said a word to him of Mrs. 
Darcy. In the evening the squire talked much at 
intervals, but in another key. He insisted on a certain 
amount of light, and leaning on Robert's arm, went 
feebly round the bookshelves. He took out one of the 
volumes of the Fathers that Newman had given 
him. 

[ 528 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

'When I think of the hours I wasted over this bar- 
barous rubbish/ he said, his blanched fingers turning 
the leaves vindictively, 'and, of the other hours I 
maundered away in services and self-examination! 
Thank Heaven, however, the germ of revolt and sanity 
was always there. And when once I got to it, I learnt 
my lesson pretty quick/ 

Robert paused, his kind inquiring eyes looking down 
on the shrunken squire. 

'Oh, not one you have any chance of learning, my 
good friend/ said the other aggressively. 'And after 
all it's simple. Go to your grave with your eyes open - 
that's all. But men don't learn it, somehow. Newman 
was incapable so are you. All the religions are 
nothing but so many vulgar anaesthetics, which only 
the few have courage to refuse/ 

'Do you want me to contradict you?' said Robert, 
smiling; 'I am quite ready/ 

The squire took no notice. Presently, when he was 
in his chair again, he said abruptly, pointing to a 
mahogany bureau in the window. 'The book is 
all there both parts, first and second. Publish 
it if you please. If not, throw it into the fire. 
Both are equally indifferent to me. It has done its 
work ; x it has helped me through half a century of 
living/ 

'It shall be to me a sacred trust/ said Elsmere with 
emotion. 'Of course if you don't publish it, I shall 
publish it/ 

'As you please. Well, then, if you have nothing 
more rational to tell me about, tell me of this ridicul- 
ous Brotherhood of yours/ 

[ 529 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Robert, so adjured, began to talk, but with diffi* 
culty. The words would not flow, and it was almost 
a relief when in the middle that strange creeping 
sleep overtook the squire again. 

Meyrick, who was staying in the house, and who 
had been coming in and out through the evening, eye- 
ing Elsmere, now that there was more light on the 
scene, with almost as much anxiety and misgiving as 
the squire, was summoned. The squire was put into 
his carrying-chair. Vincent and a male attendant ap- 
peared, and he was borne to his room, Meyrick per- 
emptorily refusing to allow Robert to lend so much 
as a finger to the performance. They took him up 
the library stairs, through the empty book-rooms and 
that dreary room which had been his father's, and so 
into his own. By the time they set him down he was 
quite awake and conscious again. 

'It can't be said that I follow my own precepts,' he 
said to Robert grimly, as they put him down. 'Not 
much of the open eye about this. I shall sleep myself 
into the unknown as sweetly as any saint in the 
calendar.' 

Robert was going when the squire called him back. 

'You'll stay to-morrow, Elsmere?' 

'Of course, if you wish it.' 

The wrinkled eyes fixed him intently. 

'Why did you ever go?' 

'As I told you before, Squire, because there was 
nothing else for an honest man to do/ 

The squire turned round with a frown. 

'What the deuce are you dawdling about, Benson? 
Give me my stick and get me out of this.' 
[ 530 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

By midnight all was still in the vast pile of Mure- 
well. Outside, the night was slightly frosty. A clear 
moon shone over the sloping reaches of the park ; the 
trees shone silverly in the cold light, their black shad- 
ows cast along the grass. Robert found himself quar- 
tered in the Stuart room, where James II had slept, 
and where the tartan hangings of the ponderous 
carved bed, and the rose and thistle reliefs of the walls 
and ceilings, untouched for two hundred years, bore wit- 
ness to the loyal preparations made by some bygone 
Wendover. He was mortally tired, but by way of 
distracting his thoughts a little from the squire, and 
that other tragedy which the great house sheltered 
somewhere in its walls, he took from his coat-pocket 
a French 'Anthologie' which had been Catherine's 
birthday gift to him, and read a little before he fell 
asleep. 

Then he slept profoundly the sleep of exhaustion. 
Suddenly he found himself sitting up in bed, his heart 
beating to suffocation, strange noises in his ears. 

A cry 'Help!' resounded through the wide empty 
galleries. 

He flung on his dressing-gown, and ran out in the 
direction of the squire's room. 

The hideous cries and scuffling grew more apparent 
as he reached it. At that moment Benson, the man 
who had helped to carry the squire, ran up. 

'My God, sir!' he said, deadly white, 'another 
attack!' 

The squire's room was empty, but the door into the 
lumber-room adjoining it was open, and the stifled 
sounds came through it. 

[ 531 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

They rushed in and found Meyrick struggling in the 
grip of a white figure, that seemed to have the face of 
a fiend and the grip of a tiger. Those old bloodshot 
eyes those wrinkled hands on the throat of the 
doctor horrible ! 

They released poor Meyrick, who staggered bleed- 
ing into the squire's room. Then Robert and Benson 
got the squire back by main force. The whole face was 
convulsed, the poor shrunken limbs rigid as iron. 
Meyrick, who was sitting gasping, by a superhuman 
effort of will mastered himself enough to give direc- 
tions for a strong opiate. Benson managed to control 
the madman while Robert found it. Then between 
them they got it swallowed. 

But Nature had been too quick for them. Before the 
opiate could have had time to work, the squire shrank 
together like a puppet of which the threads are 
loosened, and fell heavily sideways out of his captors' 
hands on to the bed. They laid him there, tenderly 
covering him from the January cold. The swollen 
eyelids fell, leaving just a thread of white visible 
underneath, the clenched hands slowly relaxed; the 
loud breathing seemed to be the breathing of death. 

Meyrick, whose wound on the head had been hastily 
bound up, threw himself beside the bed. The night- 
light beyond cast a grotesque shadow of him on the 
wall, emphasising, as though in mockery, the long 
straight back, the ragged whiskers, the strange ends 
and horns of the bandage. But the passion in the old 
face was as purely tragic as any that ever spoke 
through the lips of an Antigone or a Gloucester. 

'The last the last!' he said, choked, the tears 
[ 532 1 



GAIN AND LOSS 

falling down his lined cheeks on to the squire's hand. 
' He can never rally from this. And I was fool enough 
to think yesterday I had pulled him through ! ' 

Again a long gaze of inarticulate grief; then he 
looked up at Robert. 

'He would n't have Benson to-night. I slept in the 
next room with the door ajar. A few minutes ago I 
heard him moving. I was up in an instant, and found 
him standing by that door, peering through, bare- 
footed, a wind like ice coming up. He looked at me, 
frowning, all in a flame. "My father," he said "my 
father he went that way what do you want here? 
Keep back!" I threw myself on him; he had some- 
thing sharp which scratched me on the temple; I got 
that away from him, but it was his hands' - - and the 
old man shuddered. 'I thought they would have done 
for me before any one could hear, and that then he 
would kill himself as his father did.' 

Again he hung over the figure on the bed his own 
withered hand stroking that of the squire with a 
yearning affection. 

'When was the last attack?' asked Robert sadly. 

'A month ago, sir, just after they got back. Ah, 
Mr. Elsmere, he suffered. And he's been so lonely. 
No one to cheer him, no one to please him with his 
food to put his cushions right to coax him up a 
bit, and that and his poor sister too, always there 
before his eyes. Of course he would stand to it he 
liked to be alone. But I '11 never believe men are made 
so unlike one to the other. The Almighty meant a 
man to have a wife or a child about him when he 
comes to the last. He missed you, sir, when you went 
[ 533 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

away. Not that he'd say a word, but he moped. His 
books did n't seem to please him, nor anything else. 
I've just broke my heart over him this last year.' 

There was silence a moment in the big room, hung 
round with the shapes of bygone Wendovers. The 
opiate had taken effect. The squire's countenance was 
no longer convulsed. The great brow was calm ; a more 
than common dignity and peace spoke from the long 
peaked face. Robert bent over him. The madman, 
the cynic, had passed away: the dying scholar and 
thinker lay before him. 

'Will he rally?' he asked, under his breath. 

Meyrick shook his head. 

'I doubt it. It has exhausted all the strength he 
had left. The heart is failing rapidly. I think he will 
sleep away. And, Mr. Elsmere, you go go and sleep. 
Benson and I '11 watch. Oh, my scratch is nothing, sir. 
I'm used to a rough-and-tumble life. But you go. 
If there's a change we'll wake you/ 

Elsmere bent down and kissed the squire's forehead 
tenderly, as a son might have done. By this time he 
himself could hardly stand. He crept away to his own 
room, his nerves still quivering with the terror of that 
sudden waking, the horror of that struggle. 

It was impossible to sleep. The moon was at the 
full outside. He drew back the curtains, made up the 
fire, and, wrapping himself in a fur coat which Flax- 
man had lately forced upon him, sat where he could 
see the moonlit park, .and still be within the range of 
the blaze. 

As the excitement passed away a reaction of fever- 
ish weakness set in. The strangest whirlwind of 
[ 534 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

thoughts fled through him in the darkness, suggested 
very often by the figures on the seventeenth-century 
tapestry which lined the walls. Were those the trees 
in the wood-path? Surely that was Catherine's figure, 
trailing and that dome strange! Was he still 
walking in Grey's funeral procession, the Oxford 
buildings looking sadly down? Death here! Death 
there! Death everywhere, yawning under life from 
the beginning ! The veil which hides the common abyss, 
in sight of which men could not always hold them- 
selves and live, is rent asunder, and he looks shudder- 
ing into it. 

Then the image changed, and in its stead, that old 
familiar image of the river of Death took possession 
of him. He stood himself on the brink; on the other 
side were Grey and the squire. But he felt no pang of 
separation, of pain; for he himself was just about to 
cross and join them! And during a strange brief lull 
of feeling the mind harboured image and expectation 
alike with perfect calm. 

Then the fever-spell broke the brain cleared - 
and he was terribly himself again. Whence came it 
this fresh inexorable consciousness? He tried to repel 
it, to forget himself, to cling blindly, without thought, 
to God's love and Catherine's. But the anguish 
mounted fast. On the one hand, this fast-growing 
certainty, urging and penetrating through every nerve 
and fibre of the shaken frame ; on the other, the ideal 
fabric of his efforts and his dreams, the New Jerusalem 
of a regenerate faith; the poor, the loving, and the 
simple walking therein ! 

'My God! my God! no time, no future!' 
[ 535 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

In his misery he moved to the uncovered window, 
and stood looking through it, seeing and not seeing. 
Outside, the river, just filmed with ice, shone under 
the moon ; over it bent the trees, laden with hoar-frost. 
Was that a heron, rising for an instant, beyond the 
bridge, in the unearthly blue? 

And quietly heavily like an irrevocable sen- 
tence, there came, breathed to him as it were from 
that winter cold and loneliness, words that he had 
read an hour or two before, in the little red book 
beside his hand words in which the gayest of French 
poets has fixed, as though by accident, the most 
tragic of all human cries - 

'Quittez le long espoir, et les vastes pens^es.' 

He sank on his knees, wrestling with himself and 
with the bitter longing for life, and the same words 
rang through him, deafening every cry but their own. 

' Quittez quittez le long espoir, et les vastes 
pensees!' 



CHAPTER LI 

THERE is little more to tell. The man who had lived 
so fast was no long time dying. The eager soul was 
swift in this as in all else. 

The day after Elsmere's return from Murewell, 
where he left the squire still alive (the telegram an- 
nouncing the death reached Bedford Square a few 
hours after Robert's arrival), Edmondson came up 
to see him and examine him. He discovered tubercular 
disease of the larynx, which begins with slight hoarse- 
ness and weakness, and develops into one of the most 
rapid forms of phthisis. In his opinion it had been 
originally set up by the effects of the chill at Petites 
Dalles acting upon a constitution never strong, and 
at that moment peculiarly susceptible to mischief. 
And of course the speaking and preaching of the last 
four months had done enormous harm. 

It was with great outward composure that Elsmere 
received his arret de mort at the hands of the young 
doctor, who announced the result of his examination 
with a hesitating lip and a voice which struggled in 
vain to preserve its professional calm. He knew too 
much of medicine himself to be deceived by Edmond- 
son 's optimist remarks as to the possible effect of a 
warm climate like Algiers on his condition. He sat 
down, resting his head on his hands a moment; then, 
wringing Edmondson's hand, he went out feebly to 
find his wife. 

[ 537 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Catherine had been waiting in the dining-room, her 
whole soul one dry tense misery. She stood looking 
out of the window taking curious heed of a Jewish 
wedding that was going on in the square, of the 
preposterous bouquets of the coachman and the 
gaping circle of errand-boys. How pinched the bride 
looked in the north wind ! 

When the door opened and Catherine saw her hus- 
band come in her young husband, to whom she had 
been married not yet four years with that inde- 
scribable look in the eyes which seemed to divine and 
confirm all those terrors which had been shaking her 
during her agonised waiting, there followed a moment 
between them which words cannot render. When it 
ended that half -articulate convulsion of love and 
anguish she found herself sitting on the sofa beside 
him, his head on her breast, his hand clasping hers. 

'Do you wish me to go, Catherine?' he asked her 
gently 'to Algiers?' 

Her eyes implored for her. 

'Then I will/ he said, but with a long sigh. 'It will 
only prolong it two months/ he thought; 'and does 
one not owe it to the people for whom one has tried 
to live, to make a brave end among them? Ah, no! 
no! those two months are hers!' 

So, without any outward resistance, he let the 
necessary preparations be made. It wrung his heart 
to go, but he could not wring hers by staying. 

After his interview with Robert, and his further 
interview with Catherine, to whom he gave the most 
minute recommendations and directions, with a rever- 
ent gentleness which seemed to make the true state 
[ 538 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

of the case more ghastly plain to the wife than ever, 
Edmondson went off to Flaxman. 

Flaxman heard his news with horror. 

'A bad case, you say advanced?' 

'A bad case!' Edmondson repeated gloomily. 'He 
has been fighting against it too long under that absurd 
delusion of clergyman's throat. If only men would not 
insist upon being their own doctors ! And, of course, 
that going down to Murewell the other day was mad- 
ness. I shall go with him to Algiers, and probably stay 
a week or two. To think of that life, that career, cut 
short ! This is a queer sort of world ! ' 

When Flaxman went over to Bedford Square in the 
afternoon, he went like a man going himself to execu- 
tion. In the hall he met Catherine. 

'You have seen Dr. Edmondson?' she asked, pale 
and still, except for a little nervous quivering of the lip. 

He stooped and kissed her hand. 

'Yes. He says he goes with you to Algiers. I will 
come after if you will have me. The climate may do 
wonders.' 

She looked at him with the most heart-rending of 
smiles. 

'Will you go in to Robert? He is in the study.' 

He went, in trepidation, and found Robert lying 
tucked up on the sofa, apparently reading. 

'Don't don't, old fellow,' he said affectionately, 
as Flaxman almost broke down. ' It comes to all of us 
sooner or later. Whenever it comes we think it too 
soon. I believe I have been sure of it for some time. 
We are such strange creatures ! It has been so present 
to me lately that life was too good to last. You remem- 
[ 539 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ber the sort of feeling one used to have as a child about 
some treat in the distance that it was too much joy 
that something was sure to come between you and 
it? Well, in a sense, I have had my joy, the first-fruits 
of it at least/ 

But as he threw his arms behind his head, leaning 
back on them, Flaxman saw the eyes darken and the 
naive boyish mouth contract, and knew that under all 
these brave words there was a heart which hungered. 

'How strange!' Robert went on reflectively; 'yes- 
terday I was travelling, walking like other men, a 
member of society. To-day I am an invalid; in the 
true sense, a man no longer. The world has done with 
me; a barrier I shall never recross has sprung up be- 
tween me and it. Flaxman, to-night is the story- 
telling. Will you read to them? I have the book here 
prepared some scenes from "David Copperfield." 
And you will tell them?' 

A hard task, but Flaxman undertook it. Never did 
he forget the scene. Some ominous rumour had spread, 
and the New Brotherhood was besieged. Impossible 
to give the reading. A hall full of strained upturned 
faces listened to Flaxman 's announcement, and to 
Elsmere's messages of cheer and exhortation, and then 
a wild wave of grief spread through the place. The 
street outside was blocked, men looking dismally into 
each other's eyes, women weeping, children sobbing 
for sympathy, all feeling themselves at once shelter- 
less and forsaken. When Elsmere heard the news of 
it, he turned on his face, and asked even Catherine to 
leave him for a while. 

The preparations were pushed on. The New 
[ 540 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

Brotherhood had just become the subject of an ani- 
mated discussion in the press, and London was 
touched by the news of its young founder's break- 
down. Catherine found herself besieged by offers of 
help of various kinds. One offer Flaxman persuaded 
her to accept. It was the loan of a villa at El Biar, on 
the hill above Algiers, belonging to a connexion of his 
own. A resident on the spot was to take all trouble 
off their hands; they were to find servants ready for 
them, and every comfort. 

Catherine made every arrangement, met every kind- 
ness, with a self-reliant calm that never failed. But 
it seemed to Flaxman that her heart was broken - 
that half of her, in feeling, was already on the other 
side of this horror which stared them all in the face. 
Was it his perception of it which stirred Robert after 
a while to a greater hopefulness of speech, a constant 
bright dwelling on the flowery sunshine for which 
they were about to exchange the fog and cold of 
London? The momentary revival of energy was more 
pitiful to Flaxman than his first quiet resignation. 

He himself wrote every day to Rose. Strange love- 
letters ! in which the feeling that could not be avowed 
ran as a fiery under-current through all the sad 
brotherly record of the invalid's doings and prospects. 
There was deep trouble in Long Whindale. Mrs. Ley- 
burn was tearful and hysterical, and wished to rush 
off to town to see Catherine. Agnes wrote in distress 
that her mother was quite unfit to travel, showing her 
own inner conviction, too, that the poor thing would 
only be an extra burden on the Elsmeres if the jour- 
ney were achieved. Rose wrote asking to be allowed 
[ 541 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

to go with them to Algiers; and after a little consulta- 
tion it was so arranged, Mrs. Leyburn being tenderly 
persuaded, Robert himself writing, to stay where she 
was. 

The morning after the interview with Edmondson, 
Robert sent for Murray Edwardes. They were closeted 
together for nearly an hour. Edwardes came out with 
the look of one who has been lifted into 'heavenly 
places/ 

'I thank God/ he said to Catherine, with deep 
emotion, 'that I ever knew him. I pray that I may 
be found worthy to carry out my pledges to him/ 

When Catherine went into the study she found 
Robert gazing into the fire with dreamy eyes. He 
started and looked up to her with a smile. 

'Murray Edwardes has promised himself heart and 
soul to the work. If necessary, he will give up his 
chapel to carry it on. But we hope it will be possible 
to work them together. What a brick he is ! What a 
blessed chance it was that took me to that breakfast- 
party at Flaxman's ! ' 

The rest of the time before departure he spent 
almost entirely in consultation and arrangement 
with Edwardes. It was terrible how rapidly worse he 
seemed to grow directly the situation had declared 
itself, and the determination not to be ill had been 
perforce overthrown. But his struggle against breath- 
lessness and weakness, and all the other symptoms of 
his state during these last days, was heroic. On the 
last day of all, by his own persistent wish, a certain 
number of members of the Brotherhood came to say 
good-bye to him. They came in one by one, Mac- 
[ 542 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

donald first. The old Scotchman, from the height of 
his sixty years of tough weather-beaten manhood, 
looked down on Robert with a fatherly concern. 

'Eh, Mister Elsmere, but it's a fine place yur gawin' 
tu, they say. Ye '11 do weel there, sir ye '11 do weel. 
And as for the wark, sir, we'll keep it oop we'll not 
let the Deil mak' hay o' it, if we knaws it the auld 
leer!' he added, with a phraseology which did more 
honour to the Calvinism of his blood than the philo- 
sophy of his training: 

Lestrange came in, with a pale sharp face, and said 
little in his ten minutes. But Robert divined in him a 
sort of repressed curiosity and excitement akin to that 
of Voltaire turning his feverish eyes towards le grand 
secret. 'You, who preached to us that consciousness, 
and God, and the soul are the only realities are you 
so sure of it now you are dying, as you were in health? 
Are your courage, your certainty, what they were?' 
These were the sort of questions that seemed to under- 
lie the man's spoken words. 

There was something trying in it, but Robert did 
his best to put aside his consciousness of it. He 
thanked him for his help in the past, and implored 
him to stand by the young society and Mr. Edwardes. 

'I shall hardly come back, Lestrange. But what 
does one man matter? One soldier falls, another 
presses forward/ 

The watchmaker rose, then paused a moment, a 
flush passing over him. 

. 'We can't stand without you!' he said abruptly; 

then, seeing Robert's look of distress, he seemed to 

cast about for something reassuring to say, but could 

[ 543 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

find nothing. Robert at last held out his hand with a 
smile, and he went. He left Elsmere struggling with 
a pang of horrible depression. In reality there was 
no man who worked harder at the New Brotherhood 
during the months that followed than Lestrange. He 
worked under perpetual protest from the frondeur 
within him, but something stung him on on till 
a habit had been formed which promises to be the joy 
and salvation of his later life. Was it the haunting 
memory of that thin figure the hand clinging to the 
chair the white appealing look? 

Others came and went, till Catherine trembled for 
the consequences. She herself took in Mrs. Richards 
and her children, comforting the sobbing creatures 
afterwards with a calmness born of her own despair. 
Robson, in the last stage himself, sent him a grimly 
characteristic message. 'I shall solve the riddle, sir, 
before you. The doctor gives me three days. For the 
first time in my life, I shall know what you are still 
guessing at. May the blessing of one who never 
blessed thing or creature before he saw you go with you ! ' 

After it all Robert sank on the sofa with a groan. 

'No more!' he said hoarsely 'no more! Now for 
air the sea! To-morrow, wife, to-morrow! Cms 
ingens iterabimus sbquor. Ah me! I leave my new 
Salamis behind ! ' 

But on that last evening he insisted on writing 
letters to Langham and Newcome. 

'I will spare Langham the sight of me/ he said, 
smiling sadly. 'And I will spare myself the sight of 
Newcome I could not bear it, I think ! But I must 
say good-bye for I love them both/ 
[ 544 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

Next day, two hours after the Elsmeres had left 
for Dover, a cab drove up to their house in Bedford 
Square, and Newcome descended from it. 'Gone, sir, 
two hours ago/ said the housemaid, and the priest 
turned away with an involuntary gesture of despair. 
To his dying day the passionate heart bore the burden 
of that 'too late/ believing that even at the eleventh 
hour Elsmere would have been granted to his prayers. 
He might even have followed them, but that a great 
retreat for clergy he was just on the point of conduct- 
ing made it impossible. 

Flaxman went down with them to Dover. Rose, in 
the midst of all her new and womanly care for her 
sister and Robert, was very sweet to him. In any 
other circumstances, he told himself, he could easily 
have broken down the flimsy barrier between them, 
but in those last twenty-four hours he could press no 
claim of his own. 

When the steamer cast loose, the girl, hanging over 
the side, stood watching the tall figure on the pier 
against the grey January sky. Catherine caught her 
look and attitude, and could have cried aloud in her 
own gnawing pain. 

Flaxman got a cheery letter from Edmondson de- 
scribing their arrival. Their journey had gone well; 
even the odious passage from Marseilles had been 
tolerable; little Mary had proved a model traveller; 
the villa was luxurious, the weather good. 

'I have got rooms close by them in the Vice-Con- 
sul's cottage/ wrote Edmondson. 'Imagine, within 
sixty hours of leaving London in a January fog, find- 
ing yourself tramping over wild marigolds and mignon- 
[ 545 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ette, under a sky and through an air as balmy as 
those of an English June when an English June 
behaves itself. Elsmere's room overlooks the bay, the 
great plain of the Metidja dotted with villages, and the 
grand range of the Djurjura, backed by snowy summits 
one can hardly tell from the clouds. His spirits are 
marvellous. He is plunged in the history of Algiers, 
raving about one Fromentin, learning Spanish even! 
The wonderful purity and warmth of the air seem to 
have relieved the larynx greatly. He breathes and 
speaks much more easily than when we left London. 
I sometimes feel when I look at him as though in this 
as in all else he were unlike the common sons of men 
-as though to him it might be possible to subdue 
even this fell disease/ 

Elsmere himself wrote : - 

1 "I had not heard the half" Flaxman! An 
enchanted land air, sun, warmth, roses, orange 
blossoms, new potatoes, green peas, veiled Eastern 
beauties, domed mosques and preaching Mahdis - 
everything that feeds the outer and the inner man. 
To throw the window open at waking to the depth of 
sunlit air between us and the curve of the bay, is for 
the moment heaven ! One's soul seems to escape one, 
to pour itself into the luminous blue of the morning. 
I am better I breathe again. 

'Mary flourishes exceedingly. She lives mostly on 
oranges, and has been adopted by sixty nuns who 
inhabit the convent over the way, and sell us the most 
delicious butter and cream. I imagine, if she were a trifle 
older, her mother would hardly view the proceedings of 
these dear berosaried women with so much equanimity. 
[ 546 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

'As for Rose, she writes more letters than Clarissa, 
and receives more than an editor of the Times. I have 
the strongest views, as you know, as to the vanity of 
letter-writing. There was a time when you shared 
them, but there are circumstances and conjunctures, 
alas! in which no man can be sure of his friend or 
his friend's principles. Kind friend, good fellow, go 
often to Elgood Street. Tell me everything about 
everybody. It is possible, after all, that I may live 
to come back to them/ 

But a week later, alas! the letters fell into a very 
different strain. The weather had changed, had turned 
indeed damp and rainy, the natives of course declaring 
that such gloom and storm in January had never been 
known before. Edmondson wrote in discouragement. 
Elsmere had had a touch of cold, had been confined to 
bed, and almost speechless. His letter was full of 
medical detail, from which Flaxman gathered that, 
in spite of the rally of the first ten days, it was clear 
that the disease was attacking constantly fresh tissue. 
'He is very depressed too/ said Edmondson; 'I have 
never seen him so yet. He sits and looks at us in the 
evening sometimes with eyes that wring one's heart. 
It is as though, after having for a moment allowed 
himself to hope, he found it a doubly hard task to 
submit.' 

Ah, that depression ! It was the last eclipse through 
which a radiant soul was called to pass ; but while it 
lasted it was black indeed. The implacable reality, 
obscured at first by the emotion and excitement of 
farewells, and then by a brief spring of hope and re- 
turning vigour, showed itself now in all its stern naked- 
[ 547 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

ness sat down, as it were, eye to eye with Elsmere 
immoveable, ineluctable. There were certain fea- 
tures of the disease itself which were specially trying 
to such a nature. The long silences it enforced were so 
unlike him, seemed already to withdraw him so piti- 
fully from their yearning grasp! In these dark days 
he would sit crouching over the wood fire in the little 
salon, or lie drawn to the window looking out on the 
rainstorms bowing the ilexes or scattering the meshes 
of clematis, silent, almost always gentle, but turning 
sometimes on Catherine, or on Mary playing at his 
feet, eyes which, as Edmondson said, 'wrung the 
heart/ 

But in reality, under the husband's depression, and 
under the wife's inexhaustible devotion, a combat 
was going on, which reached no third person, but was 
throughout poignant and tragic to the highest degree. 
Catherine was making her last effort, Robert his last 
stand. As we know, ever since that passionate sub- 
mission of the wife which had thrown her morally at 
her husband's feet, there had lingered at the bottom 
of her heart one last supreme hope. All persons of the 
older Christian type attribute a special importance to 
the moment of death. While the man of science looks 
forward to his last hour as a moment of certain intel- 
lectual weakness, and calmly warns his friends before- 
hand that he is to be judged by the utterances of 
health and not by those of physical collapse, the 
Christian believes that on the confines of eternity the 
veil of flesh shrouding the soul grows thin and trans- 
parent, and that the glories and the truths of Heaven 
are visible with a special clearness and authority to 
F 548 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

the dying. It was for this moment, either in herself 
or in him, that Catherine's unconquerable faith had 
been patiently and dumbly waiting. Either she would 
go first, and death would wing her poor last words to 
him with a magic and power not their own ; or, when 
he came to leave her, the veil of doubt would fall 
away perforce from a spirit as pure as it was humble, 
and the eternal light, the light of the Crucified, shine 
through. 

Probably, if there had been no breach in Robert's 
serenity, Catherine's poor last effort would have been 
much feebler, briefer, more hesitating. But when she 
saw him plunged for a short space in mortal dis- 
couragement, in a sombreness that as the days went 
on had its points and crests of feverish irritation, her 
anguished pity came to the help of her creed. Robert 
felt himself besieged, driven within the citadel, her 
being urging, grappling with his. In little half -articu- 
late words and ways, in her attempts to draw him 
back to some of their old religious books and prayers, 
in those kneeling vigils he often found her maintaining 
at night beside him, he felt a persistent attack which 
nearly in his weakness overthrew him. 

For 'reason and thought grow tired like muscles 
and nerves/ Some of the greatest and most daring 
thinkers of the world have felt this pitiful longing to 
be at one with those who love them, at whatever cost, 
before the last farewell. And the simpler Christian 
faith has still to create around it those venerable 
associations and habits which buttress individual 
feebleness and diminish the individual effort. 

One early February morning, just before dawn, 
[ 549 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

Robert stretched out his hand for his wife and found 
her kneeling beside him. The dim mingled light showed 
him her face vaguely her clasped hands, her eyes. 
He looked at her in silence, she at him ; there seemed 
to be a strange shock as of battle between them. 
Then he drew her head down to him. 

'Catherine/ he said to her in a feeble intense whis- 
per, 'would you leave me without comfort, without 
help, at the end? ' 

'Oh, my beloved !' she cried, under her breath, 
throwing her arms round him, 'if you would but 
stretch out your hand to the true comfort the true 
help the Lamb of God sacrificed for us ! ' 

He stroked her hair tenderly. 

'My weakness might yield my true best self never. 
I know Whom I have believed. Oh, my darling, be 
content! Your misery, your prayers hold me back 
from God from that truth and that trust which can 
alone be honestly mine. Submit, my wife ! Leave me 
in God's hands/ 

She raised her head. His eyes were bright with 
fever, his lips trembling, his whole look heavenly. 
She bowed herself again with a quiet burst of tears, 
and an indescribable self-abasement. They had had 
their last struggle, and once more he had conquered ! 
Afterwards the cloud lifted from him. Depression and 
irritation disappeared. It seemed to her often as 
though he lay already on the breast of God ; even her 
wifely love grew timid and awestruck. 

Yet he did not talk much of immortality, of reunion. 
It was like a scrupulous child that dares not take for 
granted more than its father has allowed it to know. 
[ 550 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

At the same time, it was plain to those about him that 
the only realities to him in a world of shadows were 
God love the soul. 

One day he suddenly caught Catherine's hands, drew 
her face to him, and studied it with his glowing and 
hollow eyes, as though he would draw it into his soul. 

'He made it/ he said hoarsely, as he let her go - 
' this love this yearning. And in life He only makes 
us yearn that He may satisfy. He cannot lead us to 
the end and disappoint the craving He Himself set in 
us. No, no could you could I do it? And He, 
the source of love, of justice - 

Flaxman arrived a few days afterwards. Edmond- 
son had started for London the night before, leaving 
Elsmere better again, able to drive and even walk a 
little, and well looked after by a local doctor of ability. 
As Flaxman, tramping up behind his carriage, climbed 
the long hill to El Biar, he saw the whole marvellous 
place in a white light of beauty the bay, the city, 
the mountains, olive-yard and orange-grove, drawn in 
pale tints on luminous air. Suddenly, at the entrance 
of a steep and narrow lane, he noticed a slight figure 
standing a parasol against the sun. 

'We thought you would like to be shown the short 
cut up the hill/ said Rose's voice, strangely demure 
and shy. 'The man can drive round/ 

A grip of the hand, a word to the driver, and they 

were alone in the high-walled lane, which was really 

the old road up the hill, before the French brought 

zigzags and civilisation. She gave him news of Robert 

- better than he had expected. Under the influence 

[ 551 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

of one of the natural reactions that wait on illness, 
the girl's tone was cheerful, and Flaxman's spirits 
rose. They talked of the splendour of the day, the dis- 
comforts of the steamer, the picturesqueness of the 
landing of anything and everything but the hidden 
something which was responsible for the dancing bright- 
ness in his eyes, the occasional swift veiling of her own. 

Then, at an angle of the lane, where a little spring 
ran cool and brown into a moss-grown trough, where 
the blue broke joyously through the grey cloud of 
olive-wood, where not a sight or sound was to be 
heard of all the busy life which hides and nestles along 
the hill, he stopped, his hands seizing hers. 

'How long?' he said, flushing, his light overcoat 
falling back from his strong, well-made frame; 'from 
August to February how long?' 

No more! It was most natural, nay, inevitable. 
For the moment death stood aside and love asserted 
itself. But this is no place to chronicle what it said. 

And he had hardly asked, and she had hardly 
yielded, before the same misgiving, the same shrinking, 
seized on the lovers themselves. They sped up the 
hill, they crept into the house, far apart. It was 
agreed that neither of them should say a word. 

But, with that extraordinarily quick perception 
that sometimes goes with such a state as his, Elsmere 
had guessed the position of things before he and 
Flaxman had been half an hour together. He took 
a boyish pleasure in making his friend confess him- 
self, and, when Flaxman left him, at once sent for 
Catherine and told her. 

[ 552 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

Catherine, coming out afterwards, met Flaxman in 
the little tiled hall. How she had aged and blanched ! 
She stood a moment opposite to him, in her plain long 
dress with its white collar and cuffs, her face working 
a little. 

'We are so glad !' she said, but almost with a sob - 
'God bless you!' 

And, wringing his hand, she passed away from him, 
hiding her eyes, but without a sound. When they 
met again she was quite self-contained and bright, 
talking much both with him and Rose about the 
future. 

And one little word of Rose's must be recorded here, 
for those who have followed her through these four 
years. It was at night, when Robert, with smiles, 
had driven them out of doors to look at the moon over 
the bay, from the terrace just beyond the windows. 
They had been sitting on the balustrade talking of 
Elsmere. In this nearness to death, Rose had lost 
her mocking ways; but she was shy and difficult, and 
Flaxman felt it all very strange, and did not venture 
to woo her much. 

When, all at once, he felt her hand steal trembling, 
a little white suppliant, into his, and her face against 
his shoulder. 

'You won't you won't ever be angry with me 
for making you wait like that? It was impertinent - 
It was like a child playing tricks!' 

Flaxman was deeply shocked by the change in 
Robert. He was terribly emaciated. They could only 
talk at rare intervals in the day, and it was clear that 
[ 553 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

his nights were often one long struggle for breath. 
But his spirits were extraordinarily even, and his days 
occupied to a point Flaxman could hardly have be- 
lieved. He would creep downstairs at eleven, read 
his English letters (among them always some from 
Elgood Street) , write his answers to them those 
difficult scrawls are among the treasured archives of 
a society which is fast gathering to itself some of the 
best life in England then often fall asleep with 
fatigue. After food there would come a short drive, 
or, if the day was very warm, an hour or two of sitting 
outside, generally his best time for talking. He had 
a wheeled chair in which Flaxman would take him 
across to the convent garden a dream of beauty. 
Overhead an orange canopy leaf and blossom and 
golden fruit all in simultaneous perfection; under- 
neath a revel of every imaginable flower narcissus 
and anemones, geraniums and clematis ; and all about, 
hedges of monthly roses, dark red and pale alternately, 
making a rose-leaf carpet under their feet. Through 
the tree-trunks shone the white sun-warmed convent, 
and far beyond were glimpses of downward-trending 
valleys edged by twinkling sea. 

Here, sensitive and receptive to his last hour, Els- 
mere drank in beauty and delight; talking, too, when- 
ever it was possible to him, of all things in heaven and 
earth. Then, when he came home, he would have out 
his books and fall to some old critical problem his 
worn and scored Greek Testament always beside him, 
the quick eye making its way through some new mono- 
graph or other, the parched lips opening every now 
and then to call Flaxman's attention to some fresh 
[ 554 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

light on an obscure point only to relinquish the 
effort again and again with an unfailing patience. 

But though he would begin as ardently as ever, he 
could not keep his attention fixed to these things very 
long. Then it would be the turn of his favourite poets 
- Wordsworth, Tennyson, Virgil. Virgil perhaps most 
frequently. Flaxman would read the ^Eneid aloud to 
him, Robert following the passages he loved best in 
a whisper, his hand resting the while in Catherine's. 
And then Mary would be brought in, and he would lie 
watching her while she played. 

'I have had a letter/ he said to Flaxman one after- 
noon, 'from a Broad Church clergyman in the Mid- 
lands, who imagines me to be still militant in London, 
protesting against the "absurd and wasteful isolation " 
of the New Brotherhood. He asks me why instead of 
leaving the Church I did not join the Church Reform 
Union, why I did not attempt to widen the Church 
from within, and why we in Elgood Street are not now 
in organic connexion with the new Broad Church 
settlement in East London. I believe I have written 
him rather a sharp letter ; I could not help it. It was 
borne in on me to tell him that it is all owing to him 
and his brethren that we are in the muddle we are in 
to-day. Miracle is to our time what the law was to the 
early Christians. We must make up our minds about 
it one way or the other. And if we decide to throw it 
over as Paul threw over the law, then we must fight as 
he did. There is no help in subterfuge, no help in any- 
thing but a perfect sincerity. We must come out of 
it. The ground must be cleared ; then may come the 
rebuilding. Religion itself, the peace of generations 
[ 555 ] 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

to come, is at stake. If we could wait indefinitely while 
the Church widened, well and good. But we have but 
the one life, the one chance of saying the word or play- 
ing the part assigned us/ 

On another occasion, in the convent garden, he 
broke out with 

' I often lie here, Flaxman, wondering at the way in 
which men become the slaves of some metaphysical 
word personality, or intelligence, or what not ! What 
meaning can they have as applied to God? Herbert 
Spencer is quite right. We no sooner attempt to define 
what we mean by a Personal God than we lose our- 
selves in labyrinths of language and logic. But why 
attempt it at all? I like that French saying, "Quand 
on me demande ce que c'est que Dieu, je I' ignore; quand 
on ne me le demande pas, je le sais tre*s-bien!" No, we 
cannot realise Him in words we can only live in 
Him, and die to Him ! ' 

On another occasion, he said, speaking to Catherine 
of the squire and of Meyrick's account of his last year 
of life: - 

'How selfish one is, always when one least thinks 
it ! How could I have forgotten him so completely as 
I did during all that New Brotherhood time? Where, 
what is he now? Ah! if somewhere, somehow, one 
could - 

He did not finish the sentence, but the painful yearn- 
ing of his look finished it for him. 

But the days passed on, and the voice grew rarer, 

the strength feebler. By the beginning of March all 

coming downstairs was over. He was entirely confined 

to his room, almost to his bed. Then there came a 

[ 556 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

horrible week, when no narcotics took effect, when 
every night was a wrestle for life, which it seemed 
must be the last. They had a good nurse, but Flax- 
man and Catherine mostly shared the watching 
between them. 

One morning he had just dropped into a fevered 
sleep. Catherine was sitting by the window gazing 
out into a dawn-world of sun which reminded her of 
the summer sunrises at Petites Dalles. She looked the 
shadow of herself. Spiritually, too, she was the shadow 
of herself. Her life was no longer her own : she lived in 
him in every look of those eyes in every move- 
ment of that wasted frame. 

As she sat there, her Bible on her knee, her strained 
unseeing gaze resting on the garden and the sea, a sort 
of hallucination took possession of her. It seemed to 
her that she saw the form of the Son of man passing 
over the misty slope in front of her, that the dim 
majestic figure turned and beckoned. In her half- 
dream she fell on her knees. ' Master I' she cried in 
agony, ' I cannot leave him ! Call me not ! My life is 
here. I have no heart it beats in his/ 

And the figure passed on, the beckoning hand 
dropping at its side. She followed it with a sort of 
anguish, but it seemed to her as though mind and 
body were alike incapable of moving that she would 
not if she could. Then suddenly a sound from behind 
startled her. She turned, her trance shaken off in an 
instant, and saw Robert sitting up in bed. 

For a moment her lover, her husband, of the early 
days was before her as she ran to him. But he did 
not see her. 

J 



ROBERT ELSMERE 

An ecstasy of joy was on his face; the whole man 
bent forward listening. 

'The child's cry! thank God! Oh! Meyrick 
Catherine thank God!' 

And she knew that he stood again on the stairs at 
Murewell in that September night which gave them 
their first-born, and that he thanked God because her 
pain was over. 

An instant's strained looking, and, sinking back into 
her arms, he gave two or three gasping breaths, and 
died. 

Five days later Flaxman and Rose brought Cath- 
erine home. It was supposed that she would return to 
her mother at Burwood. Instead, she settled down 
again in London, and not one of those whom Robert 
Elsmere had loved was forgotten by his widow. Every 
Sunday morning, with her child beside her, she 
worshipped in the old ways; every Sunday afternoon 
saw her black-veiled figure sitting motionless in a 
corner of the Elgood Street Hall. In the week she 
gave all her time and money to the various works of 
charity which he had started. But she held her peace. 
Many were grateful to her; some loved her; none un- 
derstood her. She lived for one hope only; and the 
years passed all too slowly. 

The New Brotherhood still exists, and grows. There 
are many who imagined that as it had been raised out 
of the earth by Elsmere 's genius, so it would sink with 
him. Not so! He would have fought the struggle to 
victory with surpassing force, with a brilliancy and 
rapidity none after him could rival. But the struggle 
[ 558 ] 



GAIN AND LOSS 

was not his. His effort was but a fraction of the effort 
of the race. In that effort, and in the Divine force be- 
hind it, is our trust, as was his. 

'Others, I doubt not, if not we, 
The issue of our toils shall see; 
And (they forgotten and unknown) 
Young children gather as their own 
The harvest that the dead had sown.' 



THE END 



APPENDIX 






APPENDIX I 

CONVERSATION WITH MR. GLADSTONE ON ROBERT 
ELSMERE, APRIL 8, 1888 

Notes taken immediately afterwards 

I ARRIVED at Keble at 7.10. Gladstone was not in the drawing- 
room. I waited for about three minutes, when I heard his slow 
step coming downstairs. He came in with a candle in his hand 
which he put out, then he came up most cordially and quickly. 
' Mrs. Ward this is most good of you to come and see me ! If 
you had not come, I should myself have ventured to call and ask 
after yourself and Mr. Arnold.' 

Then he sat down, he on a small uncomfortable chair, where 
he fidgeted greatly ! He began to ask about Mamma. Had there 
been much suffering? Was death peaceful? I told him. He said 
that though he had seen many deaths, he had never seen any 
really peaceful. In all there had been much struggle. So much so 
that 'I myself have conceived what I will not call a terror of 
death, but a repugnance from the idea of death. It is the rend- 
ing asunder of body and soul, the tearing apart of the two ele- 
ments of our nature, for I hold the body to be an essential 
element as well as the soul, not a mere sheath or envelope.' He 
instanced the death of Sidney Herbert as an exception. He had 
said, ' Can this indeed be dying? ' death had come so gently. 

Then after a pause he began to speak of the knowledge of 
Oxford shown by Robert Elsmere, and we went on to discuss the 
past and present state of Oxford. He mentioned it as 'one of 
the few points on which, outside Home Rule, I disagree with 
Hutton ' ; that Hutton had given it as his opinion that Cardinal 
Newman and Matthew Arnold had had more influence than any 
other men on modern Oxford. Newman's influence had been 
supreme up to 1845, nothing since, and he had gathered from 
Oxford men that Professor Jowett and Mr. Green had counted 
for much more than Matthew Arnold. M. A.'s had been an influ- 
ence on the general public, not on the Universities. How Oxford 
[ 563 ] 



APPENDIX 

had been torn and rent, what a 'long agony of thought' she had 
gone through ! How different from Cambridge ! 

Then we talked again of Newman, how he had possessed the 
place, his influence comparable only to that of Abelard on Paris 
the flatness after he left. I quoted Burne-Jones on the subject. 
Then I spoke of Pattison's autobiography as illustrating New- 
man's hold. He agreed, but said that Pattison's religious phase 
was so disagreeable and unattractive that it did small credit to 
Newman. He would much like to have seen more of the Auto- 
biography, but he understood that the personalities were too 
strong. I asked him if he had seen Pattison's last ' Confession of 
Faith,' which Mrs. Pattison decided not to print, in MS. He 
said no. Then he asked me whether I had pleasant remembrances 
of Pattison. I warmly said yes, and described how kind he had 
been to me as a girl. 'Ah!' he said, 'Dean Church would never 
cast him off ; and Church is almost the only person of whom he 
really speaks kindly in the Memoirs.' 

Then, from the state of Oxford, we passed to the state of the 
country during the last half-century. ' It has been a wonderful 
half-century! I often tell the young men who are corning on that 
we have had a better time than they can have, in the next half- 
century. Take one thing only, the abolition of slavery in the 
world [outside Africa I suppose he meant]. You are too young 
to realise what that means. But I draw a distinction between 
the first twenty-five years of the period and the second ; during 
the first, steady advance throughout all classes, during the sec- 
ond, distinct recession, and retrogression, in the highest class of 
all. That testing-point, marriage, very disquieting. The scandals 
about marriage in the last twenty years unparalleled in the first 
half of the period. I don't trust my own opinion, but I asked two 
of the keenest social observers, and two of the coolest heads I ever 
knew Lord Granville and the late Lord Clanwilliam to tell 
me what they thought, and they strongly confirmed my im- 
pression.' Here one of the Talbot boys came in and stood by 
the fire, and Gladstone glanced at him once or twice, as though 
conversation on these points was difficult while he was there. 
I suggested that more was made of scandals nowadays by the 
newspapers. But he would not have it. ' When I was a boy, I 
left Eton in 1827, there were two papers, the Age and the 

[ 564 ] 



APPENDIX 

Satirist, worse than anything which exists now. But they died 
out about 1830, and for about 40 years there was nothing of the 
kind. Then sprang up this odious and deplorable crop of Society 
papers.' He thought the fact significant. 

He talked of the modern girl. ' They tell me she is not what 
she was that she loves to be fast. I don't know. All I can bear 
testimony to is the girl of my youth. She was excellent! ' 

'But,' I asked him, 'in spite of all drawbacks, do you not 
see a gradual growth and diffusion of earnestness, of the social 
passion, during the whole period?' He assented, and added, 
' With the decline of the Church and State spirit, with the slack- 
ening of State religion, there has unquestionably come about a 
quickening of the State conscience, of the social conscience. I 
will not say what inference should be drawn.' 

Then we spoke of charity in London, and of the way in which 
the rich districts had elbowed out their poor. And thereupon, 
perhaps through talk of the motives for charitable work we 
came to religion. 'I don't believe in any new system,' he said, 
smiling, and with reference to Robert Elsmere. ' I cling to the old. 
The great traditions are what attract me. I believe in a degen- 
eracy of man, in the Fall, in sin in the intensity and virul- 
ence of sin. No other religion but Christianity meets the sense of 
sin, and sin is the great fact in the world to me.' 

I suggested that though I did not wish for a moment to deny 
the existence of moral evil, the more one thought of it the more 
plain became its connexion with physical and social and there- 
fore removeable conditions. He disagreed, saying that the worst 
forms of evil seemed to him to belong to the highest and most 
favoured class 'of educated people,' with some emphasis. 

I asked him whether it did not give him any confidence in ' a 
new system' i. e. a new construction of Christianity to 
watch its effect on such a life as T. H. Green's. He replied, indi- 
viduals were no test ; one must take the broad mass. Some men 
were born ' so that sin never came near them. Such men never 
felt the need of Christianity. They would be better if they were 
worse!' 

And as to difficulties, the great difficulties of all lay in the way 
of Theism. ' I am surprised at men who don't feel this I am 
surprised at you ! ' he said, smiling. Newman had put these diffi- 
[ 565 ] 



APPENDIX 

culties so powerfully in the Apologia. The Christian system satis- 
fied all the demands of the conscience ; and as to the intellectual 
difficulties, well, there we came to the question of miracles. 

Here he restated the old argument against an a priori impos- 
sibility of miracles. Granted a God, it is absurd to limit the scope 
and range of the will of such a being. I agreed ; then I asked him 
to let me tell him how I had approached the question, through 
a long immersion in documents of the early Church, in critical 
and historical questions connected with miracles. I had come to 
see how miracle arises, and to feel it impossible to draw the line 
with any rigidity between one miraculous story and another. 

'The difficulty is,' he said slowly, 'if you sweep away mira- 
cles, you sweep away the Resurrection ! With regard to the other 
miracles, I no longer feel as I once did that they are the most 
essential evidence for Christianity. The evidence which now comes 
nearest to me is the evidence of Christian history, of the type of 
character Christianity has produced.' 

Here tjie Talbots' supper-bell rang, and the clock struck eight. 
He said in the most cordial way it was impossible it could be so 
late, that he must not put the Warden's household out, but that 
our conversation could not end there, and would I come again? 
We settled 9.30 in the morning. He thanked me, came with me 
to the hall and bade me a most courteous and friendly good-bye. 

On the following morning Mr. Gladstone and I talked again 
for nearly two hours, coming a good deal nearer to the real ques- 
tion in debate between us, i. e. the nature and historical value 
of the earliest Christian evidence. Of this later and longer half of 
the conversation I have unfortunately no contemporary notes, 
and have given what I remember of it in the Introduction. 



APPENDIX II 

IN the spring of 1871, M. Taine came to Oxford to give some lec- 
tures at the Taylorian. I met him at Balliol, under the master's 
roof, and retained a vivid recollection of his kindness and charm. 
After Robert Elsmere's success, I sent it to him, recalling our 
meeting in that disastrous moment of his country's history, 
seventeen years before. His letter of acknowledgement renewed 
our acquaintance, and during the few remaining years of M. 
Taine's life we saw something of him and of Madame Taine both 
in London and Paris. The brilliance of Madame Taine's ' Thurs- 
days,' where half literary and artistic Paris was to be met, 
M. Paul Bourget, especially, at the height of his fame as a talker, 
will long linger in the mind of a shy English visitor, to whom 
the French ease, and readiness of mind, seemed the most enviable, 
the most miraculous thing ! In later years, and after M. Taine's, 
death, I came to know Madame Taine better. She was one of the 
noblest and most loveable of women, fit companion for the high- 
minded scholar, whose letters have been given to us by her care, 
and that of M. Taine's distinguished nephew M. Andre Chevrillon. 

PARIS, l er f<vrier, 1889. 
MADAME, 

Je suis tres honor6 et tres reconnaissant du cadeau que vous 
avez bien voulu me faire. Les deux photographies de Westmore- 
land y ajoutent un nouveau prix. L'auteur de Robert Elsmere est 
un des premiers qui aient montre, par des touches d&icates et 
justes, Patavisme et 1 'influence du milieu herditaire, le fil qui 
rattache 1'enfant k ses ancetres eloign6s, & sa race, aux habitudes 
physiques et morales crees par le sol et 1'atmosphere; Robert, 
comme Catherine, est bien 1'enfant de ses parents et grand- 
parents, dans les deux lignes. II y a la une veine nouvelle de 
psychologic; 1'auteur 1'a decouverte et suivie, et ce n'est pas Ik 
le moindre de ses grands merites. 

L'article des Debats a semb!6 tout le monde inexact, super- 

ficiel et faux. A mon sens, le roman en question est superieur & 

tous ceux qui ont paru en Angleterre depuis George Eliot, et il 

1'emporte sur ceux d'Eliot en ce qu'il traite expressement 1'un des 

[ 567 ] 



APPENDIX 

deux problemes capitaux du siecle ; la transformation graduelle du 
christianisme. De plus la solution qu'il en donne est possible et 
meme plausible ; on ne peut lui demander da vantage. II n'est pas 
convertisseur, et son opinion ou preference personnelle, quoique 
suffisament indique'e, est sur I'arriere-plan ; elle n'intervient pas, 
comme dans Sibylle d'Octave Feuillet, ou comme dans Mile, de la 
Quintinie par George Sand, pour diminuer la ve"rite" et subordon- 
ner 1'interet humain a une these preconcue. En somme, si Ton 
cherche le credo de 1'auteur, on peut lui attribuer celui de Grey 
aussi bien que celui de Robert. 

J'avais cru a des coupures parce que la mere de Catherine et 
sa soeur Agnes sont des figures tout a fait efface"es a partir du 
second volume. Rose au contraire prend une grande place; il 
m'avait semble que son episode appelait comme contre-poids un 
episode different et correspondant, c'est-a-dire 1'histoire d' Agnes. 
De meme le futur mari de Rose me paraissait incomplet, et bien 
vite introduit; quant au squire, c'est un personnage admirable, 
si combattant et si ravage", que j'ai regrette la brievete de son 
histoire finale; il s'est passe", pendant les derniers mois, une 
Strange tragedie dans cette ame; 1'auteur etait digne de la ra- 
conter en detail et avec de"veloppement. 

Le souvenir que vous daignez rappeler se reforme en moi, avec 
des contours encore un peu vagues, j'entrevois une jeune fille 
brune et gracieuse a ce diner chez le Master of Balliol, et Swin- 
burne parmi les convives, en cravate bleu, avec des gestes sac- 
cades et comme desarticules. 

Veuillez, Madame, faire agre"er I'hommage de mon admiration 
a 1'auteur de Robert Elsmere et agreer vous-meme ma gratitude 
et mon respect. 

[H. Taine Sa Vie et Sa Correspondance, vol. n. Hachette et 
O Paris. 1904.] 

TRANSLATION 

PARIS, 1st February, 1889. 
MADAME, 

I am greatly honoured by the present you were good enough 
to send me, and am very grateful to you. The two photographs 
of Westmoreland give it added value. The author of 'Robert 
Elsmere' is one of the first who have shown, by delicate and un- 
erring touches, atavism and the influence of hereditary surround- 

r 568 1 



APPENDIX 

ings the thread that connects the child with his distant for- 
bears, with his race, with the physical and moral characteristics 
created by the soil and the atmosphere. Robert, like Catherine, 
is unmistakeably the child of his parents and grandparents in 
both lines. There is in this a new vein of psychology ; the author 
has discovered it and traced it, and that is by no means the least 
of her merits. 

The article in the Debate is, in everybody's opinion, inaccurate, 
superficial, and unwarranted. In my view the novel in question 
is superior to all that have appeared in England since George 
Eliot ; and it is superior to Eliot's novels in that it treats directly 
one of the two pressing problems of the age, the gradual trans- 
formation of Christianity. Moreover, the solution that it offers 
of that problem is possible, even plausible; we can ask nothing 
more of it. The book is not of the proselytising sort, and its 
opinion, or personal preference, although indicated clearly 
enough, is kept in the background ; it does not intrude itself, as 
in Octave Feuillet's 'Sibylle,' or as in George Sand's 'Made- 
moiselle de la Quintinie,' to lessen the verisimilitude and sub- 
ordinate the human interest to a preconceived thesis. In fact, 
if one seeks the author's credo, one may as logically attribute 
Grey's to her as Robert's. 

I had supposed that there had been some cutting, because 
Catherine's mother and her sister Agnes disappear altogether in 
the second volume. Rose, on the contrary, assumes a prominent 
position ; it seemed to me that her episode demanded, as a coun- 
terpoise, a contrasted, complementary episode that is to say, 
the story of Agnes. In like manner Rose's future husband seemed 
to me incomplete and hastily introduced; as for the Squire, he 
is an admirable character, so combative and storm-tossed that I re- 
gretted the brevity of his closing story ; during the last months 
a strange tragedy was enacted in that mind ; the author was well 
fitted to narrate it in detail and to develop it. 

The memory to which you deign to appeal is taking shape in 
my mind, with outlines still a little vague; I see a dark, graceful 
young lady at that dinner at the Master of Balliol's, and Swin- 
burne among the guests, in a blue cravat, with jerky, and as it 
were, disjointed gestures. 

Pray, Madame, convey my homage to the author of ' Robert 
Elsmere,' and accept for yourself my gratitude and respect. 



APPENDIX III 

THIS Dialogue was printed in The Nineteenth Century for Janu- 
ary, 1889. It was intended partly as an answer to Mr. Gladstone's 
article on f Robert Elsmere ' in the same review, May, 1888, partly 
as a reply to a paper on the book in the Contemporary, by Canon 
Randall Davidson, now Archbishop of Canterbury. Mr. Glad- 
stone's article was reprinted in America and widely circulated. 
In England it was republished among his 'New Gleanings,' 1890. 

THE NEW REFORMATION 

A DIALOGUE 

IN a sitting-room belonging to a corner house in one of the streets 
running from the Strand to the Embankment, a young man sat 
reading on a recent winter afternoon. Behind him was an old- 
fashioned semi-circular window, through which the broad grey 
line of the river, the shipping on its stream, and the dark masses 
of building on the opposite shore could be as plainly seen as the 
fading light permitted. But a foggy evening was stealing rapidly 
on, and presently the young man dropped his book, and betook 
himself to his pipe, supplemented by a dreamy study of the fire. 
A sound was heard in the little hall downstairs ; the reader started 
up, went to the door, and listened; but all was quiet again, and 
he returned to his chair. As he moved he showed a figure, tall, 
and possessed of a certain slouching, broad-shouldered power. 
The hair was noticeably black, and curled closely over the head. 
The features were strongly cut, dashed in, a little by accident, 
as it seemed, so that only the mouth had fallen finely into draw- 
ing. But through the defects of the face, as through the student's 
stoop of the powerful frame, there breathed an attractive and 
vigorous individuality. You saw a man all alive, marked already 
by the intensity with which he had plied his trade, and curiously 
combining in his outward aspect the suggestions of a patient 
tenacity with those of a quick and irritable susceptibility. 
'I must wait for him, I suppose,' he said to himself, as he re- 

[ 570 ] 



APPENDIX 

sumed his seat. ' I wish it were over. Come here, Tony, and sup- 
port me.' 

The Aberdeen terrier on the rug got up slowly, sleepily blinked 
at his master, and climbed into the chair beside him, where he had 
hardly established himself, after a long process of leisurely fidget- 
ing, when the hall-door bell rang in good earnest, and Tony, 
hastily driven down, was left to meditate on the caprices of power. 

His master threw open the door. 

' Well, how are you, my dear old fellow ? ' said the new-comer. 
' I thought I never should get here. The lunch at Lambeth was 
interminable, and one saw so many people there whom one knew 
a little, and was glad to talk to, that even after lunch it was im- 
possible to cut it short. But how are you? How glad I am to see 
you!' 

And the speaker advanced into the room, still holding the 
other's hand affectionately. He was a slightly-built man, in a 
clerical coat, with a long narrow face and piercing eyes. The 
whole aspect was singularly refined ; all the lines were thin and 
prematurely worn ; but the expression was sparkling and full of 
charm, and the strong priestly element in dress and manner 
clearly implied no lack of pliancy of mind, of sensitiveness and 
elasticity of feeling. 

' Sit down there,' said the owner of the rooms, putting the new- 
comer into the chair he himself had just vacated. ' Tony you 
impudence ! out of that ! Really, that dog and I have been 
living so long by ourselves that his manners, at any rate, are past 
praying for and I should be sorry to answer for my own.' 

'Well, and where have you been all this time, Merriman? ' said 
the man in the chair, looking up at his companion with an expres- 
sion in which a very strong and evident pleasure seemed to be 
crossed by something else. ' Two years, is n't it, since we parted 
at Oxford, and since I went off to my first curacy? And not a line 
from you since not one not even an address on a postcard, 
till I heard from you that you would be in town to-day. Do you 
call that decent behaviour, sir, to an old friend?' 

' It is explainable, I think,' said the other awkwardly, and 
paused. 'But, however So you, Ronalds, are still at Mickle- 
down, and it is your vicar Raynham who has been consecrated 
to-day to this new South African see? ' 

'Yes,' said Ronalds, with a sigh. 'Yes, it is a heavy loss to us 
t 571 ] 



APPENDIX 

all. If ever there was a true and effective Churchman, it is Rayn- 
ham. It is hard to spare a man like that from the work here. 
However, he is absolutely guileless and self-sacrificing, and I like 
to believe that he knows best. But yourself, Merriman ; you seem 
to forget that it is you who are the riddle and the mystery ! It is 
nearly two years ago, is n't it, since you wrote to tell me you had 
postponed your ordination for the purpose of spending some time 
in Germany, and going through further theological training? 
But as to your whereabouts in Germany I have been quite in the 
dark. Explain, old fellow.' 

And the speaker put up his hand and touched his companion's 
arm. Look and action were equally winning, and expressed the 
native inborn loveableness of the man. 

Merriman named a small but famous German university. ' I 
have been eighteen months there,' he added briefly, his quick eye 
taking note of the shade which had fallen across his companion's 
expression. 'I have had a splendid time.' 

' And have come back what for? ' 

'To eat dinners and go to the Bar.' 

Ronalds started. 

' So the old dream is given up? ' he said slowly. ' How we used 
to cherish it together! When did you make up your mind to 
relinquish the Church?' 

' Some eight or nine months ago.' 

The speaker paused a moment, then went on : ' That is why I 
did not write to you, Ronalds. At first I was too undecided, too 
overwhelmed by new ideas; and then, afterwards, I knew you 
would be distressed, so I let it alone till we should meet.' 

Ronalds lay back in his chair, sheltering his eyes from the blaze 
of the fire with one hand. He did not speak for a minute or two ; 
then he said, in a somewhat constrained voice, 

* Is G one of their what shall I call it? liberal ad- 
vanced universities? ' 

'Not particularly. The mass of students in the theological 
faculty there are on the road to being Lutheran pastors of a highly 
orthodox kind, and find plenty of professors to suit them. I was 
attracted by the reputation of a group of men, whose books are 
widely read, indeed, but whose lecture-rooms are very scantily 
filled. It seemed to me that in their teaching I should find that 
historical temper which I was above all in search of. You remem- 

[ 572 ] 



APPENDIX 

ber* and the speaker threw back his head with a smile which 
pleasantly illumined the massive irregular features ' how you 
used to laugh at me for a Teutophile how that history prize of 
mine on Teutonic Arianism plunged me into quagmires of German 
you used to make merry over, and wherein, according to you, I 
had dropped for ever all chances of a decent English style. Well, 
it was nothing but that experience of German methods, working 
together with all the religious ideas of which my mind and yours 
had been full for so long, that made me put off orders and go 
abroad. I think,' he added slowly, 'I was athirst to see what 
Germans, like those whose work on the fifth and sixth centuries 
had struck me with admiration, could make of the first and sec- 
ond centuries. I was full of problems and questionings. The his- 
torical work which I had begun so casually seemed to have roused 
a host of new forces and powers. I was unhappy. The old and 
the new would n't blend would n't fuse. I was especially wor- 
ried with that problem of historical translation, if I may call it 
so, which had risen up before me like a ghost out of all those 
interminable German books about the Goths, in which I had 
buried myself. My ghost walked. It touched matters I tried in 
vain to keep sacred from it. Finally it drove me out of England.' 

A new flame of fire had wakened in the black, half-shut eyes. 
With such a growth of animation might Richard Rothe have 
described the tumults of heart and mind which drove him from 
Germany southwards into the land of art, from Wurtemberg to 
Rome, from the narrow thought-world of Lutheran Pietism into 
the wide horizons of a humaner faith. 

'Historical translation!' said the other, looking up. 'What do 
you mean by that? ' 

' Simply the transmutation of past witness into the language of 
the present. That was the point, the problem, which seized me 
from the beginning. Here, for instance, in my work among the 
Goths, I had before me a mass of original material chronicles, 
ecclesiastical biographies, acts of councils, lives of saints, papal 
letters, religious polemics, and so forth. And I had also before me 
two different kinds of modern treatment of it, an older and a 
newer ; the older represented by books written what shall we 
say? broadly speaking, before 1840 ; the newer by a series of 
works produced, of course, in the light of Niebuhr and Ranke, 
and differing altogether in tone from the earlier series. What was 
I 573 ] 



APPENDIX 

this difference in tone? Of course, we all know in spite of 
Gibbon that history has been reborn since the Revolution. 
Yes; but why? how? Put the development into words. Well, it 
seemed to me like nothing in the world so much as the difference 
between good and bad translation. The older books had had 
certain statements and products of the past to render into the 
language of the present. And they had rendered them inade- 
quately with that vagueness and generality and convention which 
belong to bad translation. And the result was either merely flat 
and perfunctory, something totally without the breath of life and 
reality, or else the ideas and speech of the past were hidden away 
under what was in truth a disguise often a magnificent dis- 
guise woven out of the ideas and speech of the present. But 
the books since Niebuhr, since Ranke, since Mommsen! There 
you found a difference. At last you found out that these men and 
women, these kings and bishops and saints, these chroniclers and 
officials, were flesh aftd blood ; that they had ideas, passions, poli- 
tics; that they lived, as we do, under governing prepossessions; 
that they had theories of life and the universe ; and till you under- 
stood these and could throw yourself back into them, you had 
no chance of understanding the men or their doings. The past 
woke up, lived and moved, and what it said came to you with a 
new accent, the accent of truth. And all this was brought about 
by nothing in the world fundamentally but improved translation, 
by the use of that same faculty, half scientific, half imaginative, 
which in the rendering of a foreign language enables a man to get 
into the very heart and mind of his author, to speak with his 
tones and feel with his feeling.' 

The speaker paused a moment as though to rein himself up. 
Ronalds looked at him, smiling at the strenuous attitude 
hands on sides, head thrown back which seemed to recall 
many bygone moments to the spectator. 

'If you mean by all this,' he said, 'that the modern historian 
throws less of himself into his work, shows more real detachment 
of mind than his predecessors, I can bring half a dozen instances 
against you. When is Carlyle anybody but Carlyle, fitting the 
whole of history to the clothes and force philosophy?' 

'Oh, the subjective element, of course, is inevitable to some 
degree or other. But, in truth, paradox as it may sound, it is just 
this heightened individuality in the modern historian which 
[ 574 ] 



APPENDIX 

makes him in many ways a better interpreter of the past. He is 
more sympathetic, more eager, more curious, more romantic, if 
you will; and, at the same time, the scientific temper, which is 
the twin sister of the romantic and both the peculiar children 
of to-day is always there to guide his eagerness, to instruct his 
curiosity, to discipline his sympathy. He understands the past 
better, because he carries more of the present into it than those 
who went before, because the culture of this present provides him 
with sharper and more ingenious tools wherewith to reconstruct 
the building of the past, and because, by virtue of a trained and 
developed imagination, he is able nowadays to live in the life, 
physical and moral, of the bygone streets and temples, the long 
dead men and women, brought to light again by his knowledge 
and his skill, to a degree and in a manner unknown to any century 
but ours.' 

'Well said! ' exclaimed Ronalds, smiling again. 'Modern history 
has earned its paean far be it from me to grudge it.' 

'Ah! I run on,' said the other penitently, the arms falling and 
the attitude relaxing. ' But to return to myself, if you really want 
the explanation ' 

And he looked inquiringly at his friend. 

'I want it,' said Ronalds in a low voice. 'But I dread it.' 

Merriman paused a moment, his keen black eyes resting on his 
friend. Then he said gently, 

' I will say no more if it would be painful to you. And yet 
should like to explain myself. You influenced me a great deal at 
Oxford. I doubt if I should ever have thought of taking orders 
but for you. Constantly in Germany my mind turned to you with 
a sense of responsibility. I could not write, but I always looked 
forward to talking it out.' 

'Go on, go on,' said Ronalds, looking up at him. 'I wish to 
understand if I can.' 

' Well, then, you remember that, during the time I was hunting 
up Goths, I had to break off divinity lectures. But the day after 
the prize was sent in I remember gathering together the old books 
again, and I took up specially Edersheim's Jesus the Messiah, 
which Haigh of Trinity had lent me some weeks before. I read it 
for hours, and at the end I laid it down with an inward judgement 
the strength of which I shall never forget. " Learning up to a cer- 
tain point, feeling up to a certain point, but all through bad his- 
[ 575 ] 



APPENDIX 

tory bad translation ! " Six months before, I should have been 
incapable of any such verdict. But my Germans, with their vile 
type and their abominable style, had taught me a good deal in 
between. If Edersheim's ways of using documents and conceiving 
history were right, then theirs were all wrong. But I knew them, 
on the contrary, to be abundantly right at any rate within their 
own sphere. Must the Christian documents be treated differently 
could they be treated differently, in principle from the docu- 
ments of the declining Empire, or of any other historical period? 
That evening was a kind of crisis. I was never at peace afterwards. 
I remember turning to books on Inspiration and on the Canon, 

and resuming attendance on old S 's lectures on Apologetics, 

which had been interrupted for me by reading for the Essay. 

Many times I recollect going to see X at Christ Church. He 

saw I was in difficulties, and talked to me a great deal and very 
kindly about the impossibility of mere reason supplying a solution 
for any of the prevalent doubts as to Christianity. One must wish 
to believe, or belief was impossible. He quoted Mansel's words 
to me: "Affection is part of insight; it is wanted for gaining due 
acquaintance with the facts of the case." All this fitted in very 
well with the Neo-Kantian ideas I believed myself to have 
adopted during my reading for Greats ; and when he sent me to 
Mozley, and Newman's Grammar of Assent, I followed his advice 
gladly enough. But the only result was that I found my whole 
conception of truth fissured and broken up. It came to this, that 
there were two truths not only a truth of matter and a truth of 
spirit, but two truths of history, two truths of literary criticism, to 
which answered corresponding moods of mind on the part of the 
Christian. It was imperatively right to endeavour to disentangle 
miracle from history, the marvellous from the real, in a document 
of the fourth, or third, or second century; to see delusions in the 
Montanist visions, the growth of myth in Apocryphal gospels, 
or the Acts of Pilate, a natural credulity in Justin's demonology, 
careless reporting in the ascription by Papias to Jesus of a gross 
millenarian prophecy, and so on. But the contents of the New 
Testament, however marvellous, and however apparently akin to 
what surrounds them on either side, were to be treated from a 
totally different point of view. In the one case there must be a 
desire on the part of the historian to discover the historical under 
the miraculous, or he would be failing in his duty as a sane and 

[ 576 ] 



APPENDIX 

competent observer ; in the other case there must be a desire, a 
strong " affection," on the part of the theologian, towards proving 
the miraculous to be historical, or he would be failing in his duty 
as a Christian. Yet in both cases the reflexion was inevitable 
the evidence was historical and literary, and the witnesses 
human ! At this point I came across the first volume of Baur's 
Church History. Now, Baur's main theories, you will remember, 

had been described to us in one or two of S 's lectures. He had 

been held up to us as the head and front of the German system- 
making ; the extravagance of his Simon Magus theory, the arbi- 
trariness of his perpetual antitheses between " Petrinismus " and 
"Paulinismus," " Particularismus " and "Universalismus," had 
been brought out with a good deal of the dry old Oxford humour, 
and, naturally, not many of us had kept any thought of Baur in 
our minds. But now I began to read one of his chief books, and 
I can only describe what I felt in the words lately attributed by 
his biographer to Professor Green: "He thought the Church His- 
tory the most illuminating book he had ever read." Clearly it was 
overstrained and arbitrary in parts; the theory was forced, and 
the arrangement too symmetrical for historical or literary reality. 
But it seemed to me you might say the same of Niebuhr and 
Wolff. Yet they had been, and were still, the pioneers and mas- 
ters of an age. Why not Baur in his line? At any rate it was clear 
to me that his book was history; it fell into line with all other first- 
rate work in the historical department, whereas, whatever else 
they might be, Farrar's and Edersheim's were not history. That 
was my first acquaintance with German theology, except some 
translations of Weiss and Dorner. I had shrunk from it till then, 

and X had warned me from it. But after reading Baur's 

Church History and the Paul, I suddenly made up my mind to go 
abroad, and to give a year at least to the German critical school. 
Well, so far, Ronalds, do you blame me ?' 

And the speaker broke off abruptly, his almost excessive calm 
of manner wavering a little, his eye seeking his friend's. 

Ronalds had sat till now shrunken together in the big arm- 
chair, which, standing out against the uncurtained window, 
through which came a winter twilight, seemed lost again among 
the confused lines of the houses on the opposite bank of the river, 
or of the barges going slowly up stream. He roused himself at 
this, and bent forward. 

[ 577 ] 



APPENDIX 

' Blame? ' the word had an odd ring ' that depends. How 
much did it cost you, all this, Merriman?' 

'What do you mean?' 

' What I say. It gives me a shiver as I listen to you. I foresee 
the end a dismal end, all through and I keep wondering 
whether you had ever anything to lose, whether you were ever 
inside? If you were, could this process you describe have gone on 
with so little check, so little reaction ? ' 

The firelight showed a flush on the fine ascetic cheek. He had 
roused himself to speak strongly, but the effort excited him. 

Merriman left his post by the fire and began to pace up and 
down. 

'I had meant only to describe to you,' he said at last, 'an epi- 
sode of intellectual history. The rest is between me and God. 
It cannot really be put into words. But, as you know, I was 
brought up strictly and religiously. You and I shared the same 
thoughts, the same influences, the same religious services at I 
Oxford. These months I have been describing to you were 
months of great misery on the side of feeling and practice. I re- 
member coming back one morning from an early service, and 
thinking with a kind of despair what would happen to me if I 
were ever forced to give up the Sacrament. Yet the process went 
on all the same. I believe it is very much a matter of tempera- 
ment. I could not master the passionate desire to think the matter 
through, to harmonise knowledge and faith, to get to the bottom. 
You might have done it, I think.' And he stood still, looking at 
his friend with a smile which had no satire in it. 

'Of course, every Christian knows that there are doubts and 
difficulties in the path of the faith, and that he may succumb to 
them if he pleases,' said Ronalds, after a pause; 'but if he is true 
he keeps close to his Lord, and gives the answer of faith. He asks 
himself which solves most problems Christianity or Agnos- 
ticism. He looks round on the state of the world, on the history 
of his own life, and on the work of Christ in both. Is he going to 
give up the witness of the faith, of the "holy men of old," of the 
saints of the present, of his own inmost life, because men of science 
in a world which is all inexplicable tell him that miracle is im- 
possible, or because a generation or two of German professors 
who seem to him to spend most of their time, Penelope-like, in 
unravelling their own webs persist, in the face of a living and 



APPENDIX 

Divine reality, which attests itself to him every day of his life, in 
telling him that the Church is a mere human contrivance based 
upon a delusion and a lie ? Above all, He will not venture himself 
deliberately,, in a state of immaturity and disarmament, into 
the enemy's camp ; for " he is not his own," and what he bears in 
his bosom, the treasure of the faith, is but confided to him to be 
guarded with his life.' 

The musical vibrating voice sank with the closing words. 
Merriman returned to his old position by the fire, and was silent 
a minute. 

'But even you,' he said presently, with a smile, 'cannot deny 
reason some place in your scheme.' 

'Naturally,' said the other, his tone of emotion changing for 
one of sarcasm. ' To the freethinker of to-day we Christians are 
all sentimentalists strong in emotion, weak in brains. A 
religion which boasts in England a Newton, a Hooker, a Butler, 
and a Newman among its sons, is conceived of as having nothing - 
rational to say for itself. The charge is absurd on the face of it. 
We say, indeed, that finally in the last resort a certain dis- 
position of soul is required for the due apprehension of Christian 
truth ; that the process of apprehension contains an act of faith 
which cannot be evaded, and that the rationalist who will accept 
nothing but what his reason can endorse is merely refusing the 
Divine condition on which God's gift is offered to him. But that 
a religion which is not justified and ordered by reason is a religion 
full of danger is not a religion, indeed, but a mysticism we 
know as well as you do, and the English Church needs no one to 
teach her an elementary lesson. English theology wants no apo- 
logist, and the man who has not already gone over to the rest- 
lessness of unbelief need not leave his own Church in quest of 
guides. Will you find more learning in all Germany than you can 
get in Westcott and Lightfoot ? a better historian than Bishop 
Stubbs? a more omniscient knowledge of the history of criticism 
and the canon than Dr. Salmon will give you, if you take the 
trouble to read his books? In all that you have been saying I see 
forgive me ! a ludicrous want of perspective and propor- 
tion. Why this craze for German books and German professors? 
Are there no thinkers in the world but German ones? And 
what is the whole history of German criticism but a history of 
brilliant failures, from Strauss downward? One theorist follows 
[ 579 ] 



APPENDIX 

another now Mark is uppermost as the Ur-Evangelist, now 
Matthew now the Synoptics are sacrificed to St. John, now St. 
John to the Synoptics. Baur relegates one after another of 
the Epistles to the second century because his theory cannot 
do with them in the first. Harnack tells you that Baur's theory 
is all wrong, and that Thessalonians and Philippians must go 
back again. Volkmar sweeps together Gospels and Epistles in 
a heap towards the middle of the second century as the earli- 
est date for almost all of them ; and Dr. Abbot, who, as we are 
told, has absorbed all the learning of all the Germans, puts Mark 
before 70 A.D., Matthew just about 70 A.D., and Luke about 
80 A.D. ! Strauss's mythical theory is dead and buried by com- 
mon consent ; Baur's tendency theory is much the same ; Renan 
will have none of the Tubingen school ; Volkmar is already anti- 
quated ; and Pfleiderer's fancies are now in the order of the day. 
Meanwhile, we who believe in a risen Lord look quietly on, while 
the "higher criticism" swallows its own offspring. When you 
have settled your own case, we say to your friends and teachers, 
then ask us to listen to you. Meanwhile we are practical men : 
the poor and wretched are at our gates, and sin, sorrow, death, 
stand aside for no one! ' 

Merriman had been watching his companion during this out- 
burst with a curious expression, half combative, half indulgent. 
When Ronalds stopped, he took a long breath. 

' I don't know whether you have read many of the books ? ' he 
asked shortly. 

'No, I don't read German; and I am a busy parish clergyman 
with little time to spare for superfluities. But, as you remind me, 

S 's lectures taught one a good deal, and I follow the matter 

in the press and the magazines, or in conversation, as I come 
across it.' 

Merriman smiled. 

' I suppose your answer would be the answer of four-fifths of 
English clergymen, if the question were put to them. Well, then 
I am to take it for granted, Ronalds, that to you the whole of 
German New Testament Wissenschaft, or at any rate, what calls 
itself "the German critical -school," is practically indifferent. 
You regard it, in the words of a recent Quarterly article, as "an 
attack" which has "failed." Very well, let us leave the matter 
there for the present. Suppose we go to the Old Testament. 

[ 580 ] 



APPENDIX 

Were you at the Manchester Church Congress last year, and, if 
so, what was your impression?' 

Ronalds leant forward, looked steadily into the fire, and did not 
answer for a moment or two. An expression of pain and per- 
plexity gradually rose in the delicate face, in strong contrast with 
the inspiration, the confidence of his previous manner. 

'You mean as to the Historical Criticism debate?' 

Merriman nodded. 

'It was extraordinarily interesting very painful in some 
ways. I doubt the wisdom of it. It raised more questions than it 
solved. Since then I have had it much in my mind ; but my life 
gives me no time to work at the subjects in detail.' 

' Did it, or did it not, prove to your mind, as it did to mine, that 
there is a vital change going on, not only in the lay, but in the 
clerical conceptions of the Old Testament? Did your memory, 
like mine, travel back to Pusey, to the condemnation of Colenso 
by all the Bishops and five-sixths of Convocation, to the writers 
in the Speaker's Commentary who refuted him? ' 

'There is a change, certainly,' said Ronalds slowly; 'but' 
and he raised his head with a light gesture, as of one shaking off 
a weight ' my faith is not bound up with the religious books of 
the Jews "God spake through the prophets," through Israel's 
training, through the Psalms leave me that faith, which, in- 
deed, in its broad essential elements, you have never yet been 
able to touch; give me the Gospels and St. Paul, and I at least 
am content.' 

'"My faith is not bound up with the religious books of the 
Jews," ' repeated Merriman. ' I noticed almost a similar sentence 
in an article by the Bishop of Carlisle rather more than a year ago. 
What it means is that you and he have adopted, so far as the Old 
Testament is concerned, the standpoint of Essays and Reviews. 
He is a Bishop, you a High Churchman. Yet thirty years ago the 
Bishops and the High Churchmen prosecuted Essays and Reviews 
in two Ecclesiastical Courts; and Jowett's essay, in which the 
thoughts you have just expressed were practically embodied, 
cost him at Oxford his salary as professor. But to return to the 
Church Congress. The distinctive note of its most distinctive 
debate, as it seems to me, was the glorification of "criticism," 
especially, no doubt, in relation to the Old Testament. Turn to 
the passages. I have the report here ' and he drew the volume 
[ 581 ] 



APPENDIX 

towards him and turned up some marked pages. 'First, "I hold 
it to be established beyond all controversy that the Pentateuch 
in its present form was not written by Moses." That comes from 
the Dean of Peterborough. The same speaker says, further, " Of 
the composite character of the Hexateuch there can be no ques- 
tion. 'The proofs have been often set forth,' says Dr. Robertson 
Smith, ' and never answered.' To say that they have any connex- 
ion with rationalistic principles is simply to say that scholarship 
and rationalism are identical, for on this point Hebraists 
schools are agreed." But if the Hexateuch be composite, a 
redaction of different documents from unknown hands, by an 
unknown editor, what becomes of its scriptural authority what 
especially becomes of the doctrine of the Fall? Poor Pusey! 
with his "amazement" that any mind could be shaken by such 
arguments as those contained in the first book of Colenso ; or poor 
Wilberforce, with his contempt for the "old and often refuted 
cavils " brought forward by the assailants of the Pentateuch! 

' But there is another passage a little further on in the Congress 
debate, which would have touched Pusey still more nearly. "The 
certainties already attained by criticism," cries Professor Cheyne 
triumphantly, "are neither few nor unimportant. Think of the Pen- 
tateuch, Isaiah, Daniel, and Ecclesiastes ! " " Think of Daniel! 1 ' 
One can still hear Pusey thundering away: "Others who wrote 
in defence of the faith engaged in large subjects. I took for my 
province one more confined but definite issue. I selected the 
Book of Daniel. What I have proposed to myself in this course 
of lectures is to meet a boastful criticism upon its own grounds, 
and to show its failure where it claims to be most triumphant." 
"I have answered the objections raised," he declares; but he 
cannot " affect to believe that they have any special plausibility." 
What loftiness of tone all through! what a sternness of moral 
indignation towards the miserable sceptics, whose theories as to 
Daniel and the rest have been let loose, through Essays and 
Reviews, "on the young and uninstructed ! " Well, five-and- 
twenty years go by, and the Church of England practically gives 
its verdict as between Pusey and the German or English infidels 
whom he trampled on, and, in spite of that tone of Apostolic cer- 
tainty, judgement goes finally, even within the Church, not for 
the Anglican leader, but for the "infidels"! The Book of Daniel, 
despite a hesitating protest here and there, like that of Dr. Stan- 

[ 582 ] 



APPENDIX 

ley Leathes, or some bewildered country clergyman writing to 
the Guardian, comes quietly and irrevocably down to 165 B.C., 
and the Hexateuch, dissolved more or less into its original 
sources, announces itself as the peculiar product of that Jewish 
religious movement which, beginning under Josiah, strengthens 
with the Exile, and yields its final fruits long after the Exile! . . . 
' But this whole debate is remarkable to a degree as a debate 
of a Church Congress. It is penetrated and preoccupied with the 
claims of "criticism." Its subject is whether "critical results" 
(especially in connexion with the Old Testament) are to be taught 
from the pulpits of the Church of England, and these results as 
described by almost all the speakers involve a complete recon- 
struction of an English Churchman's ideas on the subject of the 
early history, laws, and religion of the Jews matters which 
he has always regarded, and which, indeed, he logically must 
regard as intimately bound up with his Christian faith. Now all 
this, especially as one looks back twenty-five years, to the Synod- 
ical condemnation of Colenso, and of Essays and Reviews, strikes 
one as a sufficiently remarkable phenomenon. The question is, 
What forces have brought it about? Well, there can be very little 
debate as to that. No doubt science and Professor Huxley have 
had their way with the Mosaic cosmogony, and the methods and 
spirit of science provide an atmosphere which insensibly affects 
all our modes of thought. But we are passing out of the scientific 
phase of Old Testament criticism. That has, so to speak, done 
its work. It is the literary and historical phase which is now 
uppermost. And in the matter of the literary history of the Old 
Testament the present collapse of English orthodoxy is due to 
one cause, as far as I can see, and one cause only the invasion 
of English by German thought. Instead of marching side by side 
with Germany and Holland during the last thirty years, as we 
might have done, had our theological faculties been other than 
what they are, we have been attacked and conquered by them ; 
we have been skirmishing or protesting, feeding ourselves with 
the Record and the Church Times, reading the Speaker's Commen- 
tary, or the productions of the Christian Evidence Society, till 
the process of penetration from without has slowly completed 
itself, and we find ourselves suddenly face to face with such a 
fact as this Church Congress Debate, and the rise and marked 
success of a younger school of critics Cheyne, Driver, Robert- 

[ 583 ] 



APPENDIX 

son Smith whom the Germans may fairly regard as the cap- 
tives of their bow and spear. 

' For look at the names of scholars quoted in this very debate 
all of them German, with the great exception of Kuenen! And 
look back over the history of the Pentateuchal controversy itself ! 
It begins in Holland with Spinoza, or in France, with the ora- 
torian Richard Simon, two hundred years ago. Simon starts the 
literary criticism of the Mosaic books, from the Catholic side. 
Jean le Clerc, a Dutch Protestant theologian in Amsterdam, 
about 1685, starts the historical method, inquires as to the time 
and circumstances of composition, and so on first conceives it, 
in fact, as an historical problem. Seventy years later comes the 
Montpellier physician, Jean Astruc. He first notices the key to 
the whole enigma, the distinctive use made of the words " Elo- 
him" and " Jahveh." This leads him to the supposition of differ- 
ent strata in the Pentateuch, and from him descend in direct line 
Kuenen and Wellhausen. It is instructive, by the way, to 
notice that all the time Astruc will have nothing to say to argu- 
ments against the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. " That," 
he says scornfully, "was the disease of the last century" an 
"attack," in fact, which had "failed"! Well, then Astruc's 
Conjectures pass into Germany, and meet there at first with very 
much the same reception from German orthodoxy that English 
orthodoxy gave Colenso. Till Eichhorn's Einleitung appears. 
From that point the patient, industrious mind of Germany throws 
itself seriously on the problem, and a whole new and vast devel- 
opment begins. Thenceforward not a name of any importance 
that is not German, except that of Kuenen, who is altogether 
German in method and science, down to our own day, when at 
last amongst ourselves a school of English scholars trained in 
the German results, and enthusiastically eager to diffuse them, 
has risen to take away our reproach, and has hardly begun to 
work before the effects on English popular religion are everywhere 
conspicuous. 

' Well, I don't know what you feel, Ronalds, but all these things 
to me, at any rate, are immensely significant. I say to myself, it 
has taken some thirty years for German critical science to conquer 
English opinion in the matter of the Old Testament. But, except 
in the regions of an either illiterate or mystical prejudice, that 
conquest is now complete. How much longer will it take before 

[ 584 ] 



APPENDIX 

we feel the victory of the same science, carried on by the same 
methods and with the same ends, in a field of knowledge infinitely 
more precious and vital to English popular religion than the field 
of the Old Testament before Germany imposes upon us not 
only her conceptions with regard to the history and literature 
of the Jews, but also those which she has been elaborating for 
half a century with regard to that history which is the natural 
heir and successor of the Jewish the history of Christian 
origins!' 

'In your opinion, no doubt, a very few years indeed,' returned 
Ronalds, recovering that attractive cheerfulness of look which 
was characteristic of him. 'As for me, I see no necessary connex- 
ion between the two subjects. The period covered by the New 
Testament is much narrower, the material of a different quality, 
the evidence infinitely more accessible, the possibility of mis- 
takes on the part of the Church infinitely less. And whatever 
may be said of our Old Testament scholarship, not even the most 
self-satisfied German can speak disrespectfully of us in the matter 
of the New. As I said before, with men like Lightfoot, Westcott, 
Hort, and Salmon as the leaders and champions of our faith on 
the intellectual side, we have very little, as it seems to me, to fear 
from any sceptical foreign Wissenschaft. Besides, what can be 
more unfair, Merriman, than to speak as if the whole of this Wis- 
senschaft were on one side? Neander, Weiss, Dorner, Tischendorf , 
Luthardt ; these are names as famous in the world as any of the 
so-called " critical " names, and they are the names, not of assail- 
ants, but of defenders of our faith. And as to the assault on the 
Christian documents, we can appeal not only to Christian writers 
but to a sceptic like Renan, in whose opinion the assault has been 
repulsed and discredited. No! here at least we are stronger, not 
weaker, than we were thirty years ago. Every weapon that a 
hostile science could suggest has been brought to bear against 
the tower of our faith, and it stands more victoriously than ever, 
foursquare to all the winds that blow.' 

' And meanwhile every diocesan conference rings with the wail 
over "infidel opinions,'" said Merriman quietly. 'It grows noto- 
riously more and more difficult to get educated men to take any 
interest in the services or doctrines of the Church, though they 
will join eagerly in its philanthropy ; literature and the periodical 
press are becoming either more indifferent or more hostile to the 
[ 585 ] 



APPENDIX 

accepted Christianity year by year; the upper strata of the work- 
ing class, upon whom the future of that class depends, either 
stand coldly aloof from all the Christian sects, or throw them- 
selves into secularism ; and Archdeacon Farrar, preaching on the 
prosecution of the Bishop of Lincoln, passionately appeals to all 
sections of Christians to close their ranks, not against each other, 
but against the " scepticism rampant " among the cultivated class, 
and the religious indifference of the democracy. But let me 
take your points in order. No doubt there is a large and flourish- 
ing school of orthodox theology in Germany. So, seventy years 
ago, there was a large and flourishing school in Germany of de- 
fenders of the Mosaic authorship and date of the Pentateuch. 
One can run over the names Fritzsche, Scheibel, Jahn, Dahler, 
Rosenmiiller, Herz, Hug, Sack, Pustkuchen, Kanne, Meyer, 
Staudlin who now remembers one of them? Of all their books, 
says a French Protestant, sketching the controversy, il n'est reste 
que le souvenir d'un heroique et impuissant effort. It is not their 
work, but that of their opponents, which has lived and penetrated, 
has transformed opinion and is moulding the future. They 
represented the exceptional, the traditional, the miraculous, and 
they have had to give way to the school representing the normal, 
the historical, the rational. And yet not one of them but did not 
believe that he had crushed De Wette and all his works! Is not 
all probability, all analogy, all the past, so to speak, on our side 
when we prophesy a like fate for those schools of the present 
which, in the field of Christian origins, represent the exceptional 
and the traditional, the miraculous? For what we have been wit- 
nessing so far is the triumph of a principle, of an order of ideas, 
and this principle, this order, belongs to us, not to you, and is as 
applicable to Christian history as it is to Jewish. 

'Then as to our own theology. Let me be disrespectful to no 
one. But I should like to ask you what possibility is there in this 
country of a scientific, that is to say an unprejudiced, an unbiased 
study of theology, under present conditions? All our theological 
faculties are subordinate to the Church ; the professors are clergy- 
men, the examiners in the theological schools must be in priest's 
orders. They are, in fact, in .that position to which the reaction- 
ary orthodoxy of Germany tried unsuccessfully to reduce 
the German universities after '48. Read the protest of the theo- 
logical faculty of Gottingen against an attempt of the sort. It 

[ 586 ] 



APPENDIX 

is given, if I remember right, in Hausrath's Life of Strauss, and 
you will realise the opinion of learned Germany as to the effect 
of such a relation between the Church and the universities as 
obtains here, on the progress of knowledge. The results of our 
English system are precisely what you might expect great 
industry, and great success in textual criticism, in all the branches 
of what the Germans call the niedere Kritik ; complete sterility, 
as far as the higher criticism that is to say the effort to recon- 
ceive Christianity in the light of the accumulations of modern 
knowledge is concerned. When Pattison made his proposals 
as to the reorganisation of studies at Oxford, he did not trouble 
himself to include therein any proposals as to the theological 
faculty. Until the whole conditions under which that faculty 
exists could be altered, he knew that to meddle with it would be 
useless. All that could be expected from it was a certain amount 
of exegetical work and a more or less respectable crop of apo- 
logetic, and that it produced. But he did not leave the subject 
without drawing up a comparison between the opportunities of 
the theological student at Oxford and those of the same student 
at any German university a comparison which set one think- 
ing. His complaints of the quality and range of English theo- 
logical research have been often repeated; they were echoed at 
last year's Church Congress by Professor Cheyne but, in fact, 
the matter is notorious. You have only to glance from the Eng- 
lish field to the German, from our own cramped conditions and 
meagre product to the German abundance and variety, to appre- 
ciate Pattison's remark in the Westminster, in 1857. I forget the 
exact words "it is a misnomer to speak of German theology. 
It is more properly the theology of the age" the only scientific 
treatment of the materials which exists. Like other great move- 
ments, it rises in this country or that, but it ends by penetrating 
into all. For my own part I believe that we in England, with 
regard to this German study of Christianity, are now at the begin- 
ning of an epoch of popularisation. The books which record it 
have been studied in England, Scotland, and America with in- 
creasing eagerness during the last fifteen years by a small class ; 
in the next fifteen years we shall probably see their contents 
reproduced in English form and penetrating public opinion in a 
new and surprising way. A minimum of readers among us read 
German, and translations only affect a small and mostly profes- 

[ 587 ] 



APPENDIX 

sional stratum of opinion. But when we get our own English lives 
of Christ and histories of the primitive Church, written on Ger- 
man principles in the tone and speech familiar to the English 
world, then will come the struggle. With regard to the Old Testa- 
ment, this is precisely what has happened the struggle has 
come and already we see much of the result. 

' Finally as to Renan ' Merriman lay back in his chair, and 
a smile broadened over the whole face ' I am always puzzled 
by the readiness with which the Englishman uses Renan as a stick 
to beat the Germans. Forgive me, Ronalds but does n't it 
sometimes occur to you that the Germans may have something 
to say about Renan? Is n't their whole contention about him 
that he is a great artist, a brilliant historian, but an uncertain 
critic? Amiel, who, though a Genevese, was brought up at Ber- 
lin, exactly expresses German opinion when he lays stress on the 
contradiction in Renan "between the literary taste of the artist, 
which is delicate, individual, and true, and the opinions of the 
critic, which are borrowed, old-fashioned, and wavering." In 
the course of time this judgement becomes patent to Renan, 
and the result appears in certain uncivil passages about young 
German professors in the preface to Les Evangiles and elsewhere. 
What matter? The face of knowledge remains the same. Renan 
is still, as Taine long ago remarked, the main expounder of Ger- 
man theological Wissenschaft for the world in general; in spite 
of his own great learning, the Origines du Christianisme could not 
have been written without the thirty years of German labour 
lying behind it. And, as a principle whether it is a great French- 
man determined to combine the artist with the savant, or an 
Englishman struggling to fuse Anglicanism with learning, as soon 
as it comes to serious differences between them and the German 
critical schools, I can only say that the impartial historical spec- 
tator will be all for the chances of the Germans, simply from his 
knowledge of the general lie of the field! Oh, these Germans! ' 
the speaker shook his head with an expression half humorous, 
half protesting ' "Yes, we arraign them," and justly, for their 
type and their style, their manners or no-manners, their dulness 
and their length. And all the time, what Taine said long ago in 
his study of Carlyle remains as true as ever. Let me turn to the 
passage, I have pondered it often,' and he drew a little note-book 
to him, which was lying beside his hand. 

[ 588 ] 



APPENDIX 

' " Thus at the end of the last century there rose into being the 
philosophic genius of Germany, which, after engendering a new 
metaphysic, a new theology, a new poetry, a new literature, a 
new philology, a new exegesis, a new learning, is now descending 
into all the sciences, and there carrying on its evolution. No 
spirit more original, more universal, more fruitful in consequences 
of all sorts, more capable of transforming everything and remak- 
ing everything, has shown itself in the world for three hundred 
years. It is of the same significance, the same rank, as that of 
the Renaissance and that of the Classical Period. Like those 
earlier forces, it draws to itself all the best endeavour of con- 
temporary intelligence, it appears as they did in every civilised 
country, it represents as they did un des moments de I'histoire du 
monde.'" 

The enthusiast dropped the book, with a smile at his own 
warmth. Ronalds smiled too, but more sadly, and the two friends 
sat silent a while. Merriman refilled his pipe, his keen look show- 
ing the rise within him of thoughts as quick and numerous as 
the spirals of blue smoke which presently came and went between 
him and his friend. 

After a minute or two he said, bending forward : 

' But all that, Ronalds, was by the way. Let me go back to my- 
self and this change of view I am trying to explain to you. You 
have given me your opinion, which I suppose is a very common 
one among English Churchmen, that the whole movement of 
German critical theology is an "attack" which has "failed," that 
the orthodox position is really stronger than before it began, and 
so on. Well, let me put side by side with that conviction of yours, 
my own, which has been gained during eighteen months' intense 
effort, spent all of it on German soil, in the struggle to understand 
something of the past history and the present situation of Ger- 
man critical theology. Take it from 1835, fifty-three years. 
Practically the movement which matters to us begins with the 
shock and scandal of Strauss's Leben Jesu, which appeared in 
that year. Strauss, who like Renan was an artist and a writer, 
derived, as we all know, his philosophical impulse from Hegel, 
his critical impulse from Schleiermacher. Philosophically he 
appealed from Hegel the orthodox conservative, to Hegel the 
thinker. "You taught us," he says in effect to his great teacher, 
"that there are two elements in all religion, the passing and the 

[ 589 ] 



APPENDIX 

eternal, the relative and the absolute, the Vorstellung and the 
Begriff. The particular system of dogmas put forward by any 
religion is the Vorstellung, or presentation, the Begriff, or idea, is 
the underlying spiritual reality common to it and presumably 
other systems besides. Why in Christianity have you gone so far 
towards identifying the two? Why this exception? for what rea- 
sons have you allowed to the Vorstellung in Christianity a value 
which belongs only to the Begriff? Your reasons must rest upon 
the Christian evidence. But the evidence cannot bear the weight. 
Examine it carefully and you will see that the particular state- 
ments which it makes are really only Vorstellung as in other 
religions, the imaginative mythical elements which hide from us 
the Idea, or Begriff. The idea which is expressed in Christian 
theology is the idea of God in man. The incarnation, death, and 
resurrection of Jesus are shadows of the eternal generation, the 
endless self-repetition of the Divine life. The single facts are 
mere sensuous symbols. ' To the idea in the fact, to the race in 
the individual, our age wishes to be led.' Naturally to achieve 
this end the Gospels as history had to be swept away. And they 
were remorselessly swept away. Something indeed remained. 
There was a Jewish teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, in whom contem- 
porary faith saw first the Messiah, then the Son of God, then the 
Logos. But his life and character were comparatively unimport- 
ant (so it stood, at least, in the earliest Leben Jesu) ; what was 
important was the idealising mythopoeic faculty which from the 
Jesus of the Galilean Lake evolved the Christ of Bethlehem, of 
the miracles, of the Resurrection, of theology." Thus the whole 
method was speculative and a priori. There was in it a minimum 
of history, a minimum indeed of literary criticism. Strauss criti- 
cised the contents of the Christian literature without understanding 
the literary and historical conditions which had produced it. Of 
the real life and culture of the men who wrote it, of the real his- 
torical conditions surrounding the person of Jesus, he had almost 
as little notion as the dogmatic historians who undertook to 
answer him. 

1 Luckily, however, not only orthodoxy, but the spirit of history, 
took alarm, and from the revolt of history against hypothesis 
began the Tubingen school. Baur, that veteran of knowledge, 
was struck, in the first place, with the fact that Strauss's book 
revealed, that a scientific knowledge of Christian sources was as 

[ 590 ] 



APPENDIX 

yet wanting to theology; in the next he was imbued with the 
conception that the Gospels had been till then placed in a false 
perspective both by Strauss and New Testament criticism gen- 
erally that not they, but the Pauline Epistles, represent the 
earliest and directest testimony we have to Christian belief. 
From this standpoint he began a complete re-examination of 
early Christian literature, conceiving it as a chapter in the his- 
tory of thought. How did the circle of disciples surrounding 
Jesus of Nazareth broaden into the Catholic Church? Can the 
steps of that development be traced in the books of the New 
Testament? If so, how are the separate books to be classed and 
interpreted with relation to the general movement? We all know 
the famous answer, that the Catholic Church of the second 
century is but the product of a great compromise come to under 
the pressure of heresy by the two primitive opposing parties, 
the Petrine and the Pauline, which for about a hundred years 
had divided Christian literature between them, so that all its 
products, Gospels, Epistles, and Apocalypse, are, in a sense, 
pamphlets, controversial documents written in the interests of 
one or the other body of opinion. Well, here at last was history 

as compared either with Strauss's philosophising, or with the 
idyllic but unintelligible picture presented by the Early Church 
as it was drawn, say, by Neander. But it was not yet pure history. 
It was marred by a too great love of system-making, of arbitrary 
antitheses and formulae, learnt, of course, from Hegel, which took 
far too little account of the variety, the nuances, the complexity 
and many-sidedness which belonged to the early Christian life, 
as to all life, but especially the rich and fermenting life of a nascent 
religion. The clue was found, but in spite of the genius of Baur 

and to my mind we owe to him all that we really know at the 
present moment about the New Testament it had been too 
arbitrarily and confidently followed up. 

'Again history protested, and again critical theology fell 
patiently to work. 

* It was conscious of two wants a deeper and more compre- 
hensive understanding of the personality and work of Jesus, 
which Baur, who had thrown a flood of light on Paul, had noto- 
riously left unattempted ; and in the second place, it was striving 
towards a more lifelike and convincing picture of the early 
Christian society. From a study of. Christian ideas, it fell to a 

[ 591 ] 



APPENDIX 

closer study of the conditions under which they arose, of that 
whole culture, social and intellectual, Jewish or Hellenic, of which 
they were presumably the product. Collateral knowledge poured 
in on all sides of the history of religions, of Roman institutions, 
of the developments and ramifications of Hellenic and Hellenistic 
thought. The workers following Baur fell into different groups: 
Hilgenfeld on the right, softening and moderating Baur's more 
negative conclusions ; Volkmar on the left, developing them ex- 
travagantly, yet evolving in the process an amount of learning, 
ingenuity, and suggestiveness which will leave its mark when his 
specific conclusions as to the dates of the New Testament books 
have been forgotten. Meanwhile two oppositions to the Tubingen 
school had shown themselves the dogmatic and the scientific. 
Of the first not much need be said. Its most honoured name is 
that of Bernhard Weiss, but the great majority of its books, 
written to meet the orthodox needs of the moment, are already 
forgotten. On the other hand, the scientific opposition repre- 
sented by Reuss, Rothe, Ewald, and Ritschl did admirable work. 
It brought Baur's ideas to the test in every possible way, and it 
supplied fresh ideas, fresh solutions of its own. Reuss's cautious 
and exhaustive method led the student to think out the whole 
problem for himself anew ; Rothe drew out the debt of Christian- 
ity to Greek and Latin institutions; while Ritschl tracked out 
shades and nuances in early Christianity which Baur's over- 
logical method had missed. 

' The years went on. With each the spirit of the time became 
more historical, more concrete. The forces generated by the great 
German historical school, by Ranke, and Mommsen, and Waitz, 
and by the offshoots of this school in France and England, made 
themselves felt more and more on theological ground. A new 
series of biographies of Jesus began. Strauss, after an abstinence 
of twenty years from theology, issued a new edition of the Leben 
Jesu, largely modified by concessions to a more historical and 
positive spirit. Schenkel published his Charakterbild Jesu, by 
which, in spite of what we should call its Broad Church ortho- 
doxy, German clerical opinion was almost as violently exercised 
as it had been by Strauss thirty years before. Keim began his 
most interesting, most important, and most imperfect book, 
Jesus von Nazara, and beyond the frontier Renan brought the 
results of two generations' labour within the reach of the whole 

[ 592 ] 



APPENDIX 

educated world by the historical brilliance and acumen thrown 
into the successive volumes of the Origines. In all this a genera- 
tion has passed away since Baur died, and we are brought again 
to a point where we can provisionally strike a balance of results. 
Do you remember Harnack's article on the present state of critical 
theology in the Contemporary two years or more ago? Harnack 
is a man of great ability and extraordinary industry, largely read 
in Germany and beginning to be largely read here. Well as 
compared with the state of knowledge thirty years ago, when 
the Tubingen school was at its height, his verdict on the know- 
ledge of to-day is simply this "richer in historical points of 
view." Harnack himself has carried opposition to some of the 
most characteristic Tubingen conclusions almost to extravagance ; 
but here in this careful and fair-minded summary not a word 
of disrespect to a famous school and "a great master," not a 
word of an "attack" which has "failed." Because the person 
who is speaking knows better! Yet he draws with a firm hand 
the positive advances, the altered aspects of knowledge. Why 
have we come to know more of that problem of the rise of Cathol- 
icism to which Baur devoted his life than Baur could ever know? 
Simply because "we have grown more realistic, more elastic, 
the historical temper has developed, we have acquired the power 
of transplanting ourselves into other times. Great historians 
men like Ranke have taught us this. Then we have realised 
that all history is one, that religion and church history is a mere 
section of the whole history of a period, and cannot be understood 
except in relation to that whole." And so on. My whole experi- 
ence in Germany was an illustration of these words. As com- 
pared with my Oxford divinity training, it was like passing from 
a world of shadows to a world of living and breathing humanity. 
Each of my three professors on his own ground was grappling 
with the secret of the past, drawing it out with the spells of learn- 
ing, sympathy, and imagination, working all the while perfectly 
freely, unhampered by subscription or articles, or the require- 
ments of examinations. Our own theology can show nothing 
like it ; the most elementary conditions of such work are lacking 
among us ; it will take the effort of a generation to provide them. 
' Two books in particular occur to me if you are not weary of 
my disquisition ! as representing this most recent phase of 
development; Schurer's Geschichte des jildischen Volkes im Zeit- 

[ 593 1 



APPENDIX 

alter Jesu Christi, and Hausrath's Neutestamentliche Zeitge- 
schichte. In the first you have a minute study of all the social and 
intellectual elements in the life of Judasa and Judaism generally, 
at the time of the appearance of Christianity. In the second you 
have the same materials, only handled in a more consecutive and 
artistic way, and as a setting first for the life of Jesus, and after- 
wards for the history of the Apostles. If you compare them with 
Strauss, you see with startling clearness how far we have travelled 
in half a century. There an empty background, an effaced per- 
sonality, and in its stead the play of philosophical abstraction. 
Here, a landscape of extraordinary detail and realism, peopled 
with the town and country populations which belong to it; 
Pharisee and Essene, Sadducee and Hellenist, standing out with 
the dress and utterance and gesture native to each ; and in their 
midst the figure which is at last becoming real, intelligible, 
human, as it has never yet been, and which in these latter days 
we are beginning again to see with something of the vision of 
those who first loved and obeyed ! The contrast sets us looking 
back with wonder over the long, long road. But there is no break 
in it, no serious deviation. From the beginning till now the driv- 
ing impulse has been the same the impulse to understand, the 
yearning towards a unified and rationalised knowledge. Each step 
has been necessary, and each step a development. A diluted and 
falsified history was first driven out by thought, which was then, 
as it were, left alone for a time on ground cleared by violence ; now 
a juster thought has replaced the old losses by a truer history, a 
fuller and exacter range of conceptions. An "attack" which has 
"'failed." Could any description be more ludicrous than this 
common English label applied to a great and so far triumphant 
movement of thought? Looking back over the controversy, whether 
as to the Old Testament or the New, I see a similar orthodox judge- 
ment asserting itself again and again generally as an immediate 
prelude to some fresh and imposing development of the critical 
process and again and again routed by events. At the present 
moment it could only arise, like your quotation of Renan, if you 
will let me say so and I mean no offence in a country and 
amid minds for the most part willingly ignorant of the whole 
actual situation. Just as much as the criticism of Roman institu- 
tions and primitive Roman history has failed, just as much as the 
scientific investigation of Buddhism during the present century 

[ 594 ] 



APPENDIX 

has failed, in the same degree has the critical investigation of 
Christianity failed no more! In all three fields there has been 
the same alternation of hypothesis and verification, of speculative 
thought modified by controlling fact. But because some of 
Niebuhr's views as to the trustworthiness of Livy have been 
corrected here and there in a more conservative sense by his 
successors because Senart's speculations as to the mythical 
elements of Buddhism have been checked in certain directions 
by the conviction of a later school that from the Pali texts now 
being brought to light a greater substratum of fact may be recov- 
ered for the life of Buddha and the primitive history of his order 
than was at one time suspected, because of these fluctuations 
of scholarship, you do not point a hasty finger of scorn at the 
modern studies of Roman history or of Buddhism! Still less, I 
imagine, are you prepared to go back to an implicit belief in Rhea 
Sylvia, or to find the miracles of early Buddhism more historically 
convincing!' 

Ronalds looked up quickly. 'We do not admit your parallel 
for a moment! In the first place, the Christian phenomena are 
unique in the history of the world, and cannot be profitably com- 
pared on equal -terms with any other series of phenomena. In the 
second, the variations which do not substantially affect the credit 
of scholarship in matters stretching so far over time and place 
as Roman history or Buddhism, are of vital consequence when it 
comes to Christianity. The period is so much narrower, the 
possibilities so much more limited. To throw back the Gospels 
from the second century, where Baur and Volkmar placed them, 
to the last thirty years of the first is practically to surrender the 
bases of the rationalist theory. You give yourself no time for the 
play of legend, and instead of idealising followers writing mythical 
and hearsay accounts, the critic himself brings us back face to 
face with either eye-witnesses, or at any rate the reporters of eye- 
witnesses. He has treated the testimony as he pleased, has sub- 
jected it to every harsh irreverent test his ingenuity could suggest, 
and instead of either getting rid of it wholesale, or forcing it into 
the mould of his own arbitrary conceptions, he is obliged to put 
up with it, to acknowledge in it a power he cannot pass over 
the witness of truth to the living truth ! ' 

' " Obliged to put up with it " ! ' said Merriman, with a smile, in 
which, however, there was a touch of deep melancholy. 'How 
[ 595 ] 



APPENDIX 

oddly such a phrase describes that patient loving investigation 
of every vestige and fragment of Christian antiquity which has 
been the work of the critical school, and to which the orthodox 
Church, little as she will acknowledge it, owes all the greater 
reasonableness and livingness of her own modern Christianity! 
On the contrary, Ronalds, men like Harnack and Hausrath have 
no quarrel with Christian testimony, no antipathy whatever to 
what it has to say. They have simply by long labour come to 
understand it, to be able to translate it. They, and a vast section 
of the thinking Christian world with them, have merely learnt 
not to ask of that testimony more than it can give. They have 
come to recognise that it was conditioned by certain necessities 
of culture, certain laws of thought ; that in a time which had no 
conception of history, or of accurate historical reporting in our 
sense a time which produced the allegorical interpretations 
of Alexandria, the Rabbinical interpretations of St. Paul and 
the Gospels, the historical method of Josephus, the superstitions 
of Justin and Papias, the childish criticism and information of 
Irenseus, and the mass of pseudepigraphical literature which meet 
us at every turn before, and in, and after the New Testament 
it is useless to expect to find a history which is not largely legend, 
a tradition which is not largely delusion. Led by experience 
gathered not only from Christian history, but from all history, 
they expect beforehand what the Christian documents reveal. 
They see a sense of history so weak that, in preserving the tra- 
dition of the Lord, it cannot keep clear and free from a manifest 
contradiction even the most essential facts, not even the native 
place of his parents, the duration of his ministry, the date of his 
death, the place and time and order of the Resurrection appear- 
ances, the length of the mysterious period intervening between 
the Resurrection and the Ascension ; and in preserving the tra- 
dition of the Apostles, it cannot record with certainty for their 
disciples even the most essential facts as to their later lives, the 
scenes of their labours, the manner of their deaths. On all these 
points the documents show naively as all early traditions do 
the most irreconcileable discrepancies. The critical historian 
could have foretold them, finds them the most natural thing in 
the world. On the other hand, he grows familiar, as the inquiry 
goes deeper, with that fund of fancy and speculation, of supersti- 
tious belief, or nationalist hope in the mind of the first Christian 

[ 596 1 



APPENDIX 

period, the bulk of which he knows to be much older than the 
appearance of Jesus of Nazareth, and wherein he can trace the 
elements which conditioned the activity of the Master, and col- 
oured all the thoughts of his primitive followers about him. He 
measures the strength of these fantastic or poetical conceptions 
of nature and history by the absence or weakness, in the society 
producing them, of that controlling logical and scientific instinct 
which it has been the work of succeeding centuries, the toil of 
later generations, to develop in mankind ; and when he sees the 
passion of the Messianic hope, or the Persian and Parsee con- 
ceptions of an unseen world which the course of history had 
grafted on Judaism, or the Hellenistic speculation with which 
the Jewish Dispersion was everywhere penetrated, or the mere 
natural love of marvel which every populace possesses, and more 
especially an Eastern populace when he watches these forces 
either shaping the consciousness of Jesus, or dictating the forms 
of belief and legend and dogma in which his followers cast the 
love and loyalty roused by a great personality this also he 
could have foretold, this also is the most natural thing in the 
world. For to realise the necessity, the inevitableness of these 
three features in the story of Christianity, he has only to look out 
on the general history of religions, of miracle, of sacred biography, 
of inspired books, to see the same forces and the same processes 
repeating themselves all over the religious field. 

' So in the same way with the penetration and success of Christ- 
ianity, the "moral miracle," which is to convince us of 
Christian dogma, when the appeal to physical miracle fails. To 
the historian there is no miracle, moral or physical, in the matter, 
any more than there is in the rise of Buddhism or of any other 
of those vast religious systems with which the soil of history is 
strewn. He sees the fuel of a great ethical and spiritual move- 
ment, long in preparation from many sides, kindled into flame 
by that spark of a great personality, a life of genius, a tragic 
death. He sees the movement shaping itself to the poetry, myth, 
and philosophy already existing when it began, he sees it produc- 
ing a new literature, instinct with a new passion, simplicity and 
feeling. He watches it as time goes on appropriating the strength 
of Roman institutions, the subtleties of Greek thought, and 
although in every religious history, nay, in every individual his- 
tory, there remain puzzles a'nd complexities which belong to the 
[ 597 ] 



APPENDIX 

mysteries of the human organisation, and which no critical pro- 
cess however sympathetic can ever completely fathom, still at 
the end the Christian problem is nearer a detailed solution for 
him than some others of the great religious problems of the world. 
How much harder for a European really to understand the vast 
spread and empire of Buddhism, its first rise, its tenacious hold 
on human life! 

'But this relatively full understanding of the Christian pro- 
blem is only reached by a vigilant maintenance of that lookout over 
the whole religious field of which I spoke just now. Only so can 
the historian keep his instinct sharp, his judgement clear. It is 
this constant use indeed of the comparative method which dis- 
tinguishes him from the orthodox critic, which divides, say a 
German like Harnack or Hausrath from an Englishman like 
Westcott. The German is perpetually bringing into connexion 
and relation; the Englishman, like Westcott, on the contrary, 
under the influence of Hansel's doctrine of "affection," works 
throughout from an isolation, from the perpetual assumption of 
a special case. The first method is throughout scientific. The 
second has nothing to do with science. It has its own justification, 
no doubt, but it must not assume a name that does not belong 
to it.' 

'Now I see, Merriman, how little you really understand the 
literature you profess to judge!' cried Ronalds; 'as if Westcott, 
who knows everything, and is for ever bringing Christianity into 
relation with the forces about it, can be accused of isolating it! 
A passage from the Gospel of the Resurrection comes into my mind 
at the moment which is conclusive: " Christianity is not an iso- 
lated system, but the result of a long preparation Christianity 
cannot be regarded alone and isolated from its antecedents. To 
attempt to separate Christianity from Judaism and Hellenism 
is not to interpret Christianity, but to construct a new religion," 
and so on. What can be more clear? ' 

' I speak from a knowledge of Westcott 's books,' said Merriman 
quietly. ' The passages you quote concern the moral and philo- 
sophical phenomena of Christianity I was speaking of the 
miraculous phenomena. No scholar of any eminence, whatever 
might have been the case fifty years ago, could at the present 
moment discuss the speculation and ethics of early Christen- 
dom without reference to surrounding conditions. So much the 

[ 598 ] 



APPENDIX 

progress of knowledge has made impossible. But the procedure 
the Christian apologist cannot maintain in the field of ideas, he 
still maintains in the field of miracle and event. Do you find 
Westcott seriously sifting and comparing the narratives of heal- 
ing, of rising from the dead, of .visions, and so on, which meet 
us in the New Testament, by the help of narratives of a similar 
kind to be found either in contemporary or later documents, of 
the materials offered by the history of other religions or of other 
periods of Christianity? And if the attempt is anywhere made, 
do you not feel all through that it is unreal, that the speaker's 
mind is made up, to begin with, under the influence of "that 
affection which is part of insight," and that he starts his history 
from an assumption which has nothing to do with history? No! 
Westcott is an eclectic, or a schoolman, of the most delicate, in- 
teresting, and attractive type possible ; but his great learning is 
for him not an instrument and means of conviction, it is a mere 
adornment of it.' 

There was a long pause, which Ronalds at last broke, looking at 
his friend with emotion in every feature. 

'And the result of it all, Merriman, for Germany and for your- 
self? Is Germany the better or the nobler for all her speculation? 
Are you the happier?' 

Merriman thought a while as he stood leaning over the fire ; then 
he said, ' Germany is in a religious state very difficult to under- 
stand, and the future of which is very difficult to forecast. To 
my mind, the chief evils of it come from that fierce reaction after 
'48 which prevented the convictions of liberal theology from min- 
gling with the life and institutions of the people. Religion was for 
years made a question of politics and bureaucracy; and though 
the freedom of teaching was never seriously interfered with, the 
Church, which was for a long time the tool of political conserva- 
tism, organised itself against the liberal theological faculties, and 
the result has been a divorce between common life and speculat- 
ive belief which affects the greater part of the cultivated class. 
The destructive forces of scientific theology have made them 
indifferent to dogma and formulae, and reaction in Church and 
State has made it impossible for the new spiritual conceptions 
which belong to that theology to find new forms of religious 
action and expression.' 

'Religious action!' said Ronalds bitterly. 'What religion is 
[ 599 ] 



APPENDIX 

possible to men who regard Christ as a good man with mistaken 
notions on many points, and God as an open question?' 

'For me at the present moment,' replied Merriman, with a sin- 
gular gentleness, and showing in the whole expression of eye and 
feature, as he involuntarily moved nearer to his companion, a 
wish to soothe pain, a yearning to meet feeling with feeling, ' that 
is not the point. The point is, what religion is possible to men, 
for whom God is the only reality, and Jesus that friend of God 
and man, in whom, through all human and necessary imperfec- 
tion, they see the natural leader of their inmost life, the symbol of 
those religious forces in man which are primitive, essential, and 
universal?' 

' What can a mere man, however good and eminent, matter to 
me,' asked Ronalds impatiently, 'eighteen centuries after his 
death? The idea that Christianity can be reconstructed on any 
such basis is the merest dream.' 

' Then, if so, history is realising a dream I For while you and 
those who think with you, Ronalds, are discussing whether a cer- 
tain combination is possible, that combination is slowly and 
silently establishing itself in human life all about you! You dis- 
pute and debate solvitur ambulando. All over the world, in 
quiet German towns, in Holland, in the circles which represent 
some of the best life of France, in large sections of Scotch and 
English life, and in large sections of American life, these ideas 
which you ridicule as chimerical are being carried day by day 
into action, tried by all the tests which evil and pain can apply, 
and proving their power to help, inspire, and console human 
beings. All round us' and the speaker drew himself up, an 
indescribable air of energy and hope pervading look and frame 
' all round us I feel the New Reformation preparing, struggling 
into utterance and being! It is the product, the compromise of 
two forces, the scientific and the religious. In the English Re- 
formed Church of the future, to which the Church of England and 
the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterians, the Congregational - 
ists, the Independents, and the Unitarians will all contribute, 
and wherein the Liberal forces now rising in each body will ulti- 
mately coalesce, science 'will find the religion with which, as it 
has long since declared, through its wisest mouths, it has no 
rightful quarrel, and religion will find the science which belongs 
to it and which it needs. Ah ! but when, when? ' and the tone 

[ 600 ] 



APPENDIX 

changed to one of yearning and passion. ' It is close upon us 
it is prepared by all the forces of history and mind its rise 
sooner or later is inevitable. But one has but the one life, and 
the years go by. Meanwhile the men whose hearts and heads are 
with us, who are our natural leaders, cling to systems which are 
for others, not for them, in which their faith is gone, an,d where 
their power is wasted, preaching a two-fold doctrine one for 
the elite and one for the multitude and so ignoring all the 
teachings of history as to the sources and conditions of the relig- 
ious life.' 

He stopped, a deep momentary depression stealing over the 
face and attitude, which ten minutes before had expressed such 
illimitable hope. Again Ronalds put up his hand and laid it 
lingeringly on the arm beside him. 

'And yourself, Merriman?' 

Merriman looked down into the anxious friendly eyes, the 
moved countenance, and his own aspect gradually cleared. He 
spoke with a grave and mild solemnity as though making a con- 
fession of faith. 

'I am content, Ronalds, inwardly more at rest than for 
years. This study of mine, which at first seemed to have swept 
away all, has given me back much. God though I can find no 
names for Him is more real, more present to me than ever 
before. And when, in the intervals of my law-work, I go back 
to my favourite books, it seems to me that I live with Jesus, 
beside Gennesareth, or in the streets of Jerusalem, as I never 
lived with him in the old days, when you and I were Anglicans 
together. I realise his historical limitations, and the more present 
they are to me, the more my heart turns to him, the more he 
means to me, and the more ready I am to go out into that world 
of the poor and helpless he lost his life for, with the thought of 
him warm within me. I do not put him alone, on any non-natural 
pinnacle ; but history, led by the blind and yet Divine instinct of 
the race, has lifted this life from the mass of lives, and in it we 
Europeans see certain ethical and spiritual essentials concentrated 
and embodied, as we see the essentials of poetry and art and 
knowledge concentrated and embodied in other lives. And be- 
cause ethical and spiritual things are more vital to us than art 
and knowledge, this life is more vital to us than those. Many 
others may have possessed the qualities of Jesus, or of Buddha, 
[ 601 ] 



APPENDIX 

but circumstance and history have in each case decided as to the 
relative worth of the particular story, the particular inspiration, 
for the world in which it arose, in comparison with other stories 
or other inspirations; and amid the difficulties of existence, the 
modern European who persists in ignoring the practical value of 
this exquisite Christian inheritance of ours, or the Buddhist who 
should as yet look outside his own faith for the materials of a 
more rational religious development, is to my mind merely waste- 
ful and impatient. We must submit to the education of God 
the revolt against miraculous belief is becoming now not so much 
a revolt of reason as a revolt of conscience and faith but we 
must keep firm hold all the while of that vast heritage of feeling 
which goes back, after all, through all the overgrowths of dream 
and speculation to that strongest of all the forces of human life 
the love of man for man, the trust of the lower soul in the higher, 
the hope and the faith which the leader and the hero kindles 
amid the masses!' 

The two men remained silent a while. Then Ronalds rose from 
his chair and grasped his companion's hand. 

We are nearer than we seemed half an hour ago,' he said. 

'And we shall come nearer yet,' said Merriman, smiling. 

Ronalds shook his head, stayed chatting a while on indifferent 
subjects, and went. 

MARY A. WARD. 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
U . S . A 



PR 
5710 
1911 
v.2 



Ward, Mary Augusta (Arnold) 

The writings of Mrs. 
Humphry Ward 
,-Westmorp 1 "" 



RoMrts